12 Rounds 3: Lockdown is the third installment in an ongoing movie series from WWE Studios. The three movies aren’t related, and each one stars a different WWE wrestler (the first one starred John Cena and the second one Randy Orton). And this one departed from the premise of the first two – the hero being given a series of twelve tasks to get through to take down the bad guy. In this one 12 rounds merely refers to the number of bullets the main character has left to take down all the bad guys. That’s definitely a major change but it does make for a more realistic storyline, for whatever that’s worth.
Ambrose plays John Shaw, a police officer returning to desk duty after being shot in a confrontation that left his partner dead. He stumbles across evidence that his former partner, played by Roger Cross, committed a murder and has to evade and take down Cross and his cronies while safely getting the evidence to the proper authorities.
What Worked for Me
Ambrose was a good choice for the lead role, he was believable as Shaw and seemed pretty natural. It could simply be that he didn’t have to stray beyond his usual onscreen persona, but he didn’t come off like a non actor trying to act. I can’t imagine what it was like for those who saw 12 Rounds 2 to endure Randy Orton try to do more than the few short sentences he says on WWE television. The key to all of these wrestler-centric movies is whether or not whoever’s doing it can play the role without sounding like someone reading cue cards. The overall scripts and storylines usually live somewhere between not bad and below average so the acting job of the star can make it watchable or drag it down like an anchor. Ambrose did what was needed here.
The rest of the cast was fine. The villains were evil enough with having to do anything ridiculously over the top to make you hate them. They were taking money from drug busts and killed a guy; no blowing up a city block or shooting 20 people. And there were no hackneyed side plots – no forced romances, no coincidental connections of the villain to some previous transgression against the hero. They played it pretty straight here and that was a good thing. And they avoided the age old cliche of the hero’s car getting destroyed by the bad guys – when Shaw drove to the station in a shiny Camaro at the beginning of the film I just knew that car was going to wrecked or blown up at some point, and it didn’t.
What Didn’t Work
While I didn’t find anything egregiously bad, there was very little that jumped out at me, either. It seems that in an effort to not be over the top, they didn’t do much to get you excited either. It felt like a good cable/straight to video original movie, which is basically what it is. Things did pick up in the last 20 minutes or so, but for the first hour it wasn’t very attention grabbing. Ambrose did fine in the fight scenes, which you would expect, but they could have used some more cool takeout sequences on some of the henchmen. It was almost like they just didn’t want to make a bad movie; in order to really score with these you have to take some chances that will either make the movie really cool or send it into self parody. They didn’t do that here, and it takes away from what could have been.
Overall Grade: C+
Not bad, but not very thrilling. Ambrose gave me the impression that they could have given him a little more range without exposing him acting-wise. They laid off the stupid cliches but at the same time there weren’t any memorable lines or action sequences. I watched this at home when there wasn’t anything else on; it served it’s purpose well under those circumstances but if I’d gone to a movie theater for it I wouldn’t have been happy.