12 Rounds 3: Lockdown – WWE Formulaic Action Film (Review)

Jonathan Good as John Shaw

12 Rounds 3: Lockdown is yet another of a long list of films to copy the “Die Hard” formula. One cop versus a number of villains. The hero has  limited firepower in a locked down building and no outside help. Apart from the occasional phone call.  Although this watered down version features a WWE star and the action is not as funny or as epic as the 1988 Willis vehicle.

Ever since Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s runaway success with his film career, WWE heavyweights (pun intended) have been leaping on the acting wagon to become the “Next Big Thing.” None have quite matched the success of Johnson. (The man can act and has presence that few can come near replicating on screen.)

Jonathan Good, aka Dean Ambrose,  plays John Shaw (Even the name evokes memories of  John McClane…) a straighter than straight cop whose partner was shot. He himself was wounded in the line of duty and has just returned to work.

Dark Matter”  star Roger Cross is Tyler Burke. A crooked detective with a gang in the police department that obeys  his every order. Burke kills a partner at the start of the film and covers it up. The dead man has a piece of evidence that will convict the dirty cop if it is not retrieved. Shaw gets there first.

Things take off from there. Burke and Shaw have a history of antagonism and it is shown a number of ways. Once the action starts in, where a Burke’s 11 or so henchmen try to track down and kill Shaw, the 12 rounds of the title makes more sense.

Granted the film is just one more in a series that shares the numerical title.  Each one starring a WWE sensation.  The main problem with this last in the budding franchise is Good himself.  Not that the man cannot act (He can and does a very good job at playing the lone “good”  cop.) but he does not look the part.

At no time does the WWE star look like a cop full stop. In a world where film  roles are cast because the incumbent looks the part,  12 Rounds 3: Lockdown seriously lets the side down.  If this were not a WWE production Roger Cross would have been the good cop and Good the bad one.

Jonathan Good (Dean Ambrose) looks more like a drug dealer’s enforcer or even mafioso hit man.  He does not emanate that “leading man” look of “rightness.” Regardless of this casting faux pas though, the actor did do a good job.

Not so the script’s writers. Fair enough the storyline and plot had to match the franchise title.  12 rounds being the amount of rounds, aka cartridges, that Shaw’s sig holds in the clip.  When everything goes pear shaped in the film, Shaw is stuck with his semi-automatic weapon and sparingly uses it.

Fair enough.

But…The cop is in the police headquarters building  which has an entire arsenal of weapons at his deposal.  Shaw never goes there, neither does he pick up any of the weapons of villains he dispatches.   He does, however, keep compulsively  checking the sig clip and counting his dwindling supply of ammunition.

Later in the movie Cross and his cohorts raid the arsenal and pull out the heavy duty stuff.  Something that Shaw could have done at any time.

Another annoying thing was the fight sequences which did all feel a little too WWE.  It would not have been surprising to see a body slam in there somewhere. Each altercation seemed to indicate that none of the police officers had courses in self defense. It was all brute force and no real finesse.

However…

The film is entertaining.  The pace is swift and while Good (Ambrose) is not Bruce Willis we do get behind his outnumbered character.

(On a sidenote: The taser gag was well done and made up for a lot of sloppy logic in the film.)

It is tempting to give 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown a full 4 stars (as the presence of Roger Cross earns a full star immediately) but the reliance on an old (by now) formulaic action template drops the score.  The film is a 3 star film which entertains but is, ultimately, nothing special.

Fans of WWE may want to award a higher star rating.

The film is streaming on Amazon Prime at the moment and is well worth a look. Check it out and enjoy Roger Cross’ villain. (Cross does give good bad guy.)

Dead Men by Stephen Leather: Shepherd Number 5

Stephen Leather‘s Daniel ‘Spider’ Shepherd is an ex-Special Air Services (aka Special Forces, aka SAS) who now works for the newly formed SOCA (the Serious Organised Crime Agency) as an undercover operative. Dead Men is the fifth in the series and like all the other books about Spider, it’s a cracking good read.

As I’ve said before, Stephen Leather writes about the IRA quite often in his books, whether they are Spider Shepherd books or not, showing just how much the IRA are part of British history and life. Despite the peace talks and the fact that the IRA was “absorbed” by Sinn Fein, they are still a painful memory for a lot of Briton’s and only recently have been replaced as the national “boogey men” by Al-Qaeda.

Shepherd lives with his son Liam and their “live-in” housekeeper/nanny/cook Katra. His boss is the hard-as-nails Charlotte Button aka Charlie. She has transferred from MI5 to the new crime unit. He will in this book try to solve a series of IRA revenge killings while trying to keep Liam, Katra and Charlie safe from revenge killings from a different source.

Dead Men takes a closer look at the aftermath of the peace talks and the hard feelings felt by those who felt that justice had not been served regarding the terrorist action of the IRA. When the men and women who participated in Irelands “war” against England receive a “get out of jail free” card that absolves them of all crimes committed, a lot of people are unhappy.

The book opens with the barbaric execution of a local police constable Robbie Carter during “the troubles”. He is “kneecapped” (shot behind the knees) and then summarily shot in the back of the head. All this takes place in front of his wife and son.

Years later, someone is taking out the gang of “executioners” in the exact same manner that Carter was killed. SOCA has the job of finding out who is actually committing the murders. The finger of the law is pointing to Carter’s widow Elaine who, in the years after her husband’s murder, has also lost her son to Leukaemia.

Spider has been tasked to “get close” to her and prove her innocence or guilt. Meanwhile Charlie Button’s MI5 past is catching up with her in the form of an angry father. She and an American operative from “Spooksville” (CIA and black ops Homeland Security)  USA Richard Yokely (a very interesting character who is perhaps a bit more dangerous than Spider) interrogated two men who wound up dying as a direct and not so direct result of their questioning.

Poppa hires a top-of-the-league “hitman” to take them both out, painfully and aware of why they have been targeted. As the gang of IRA murderers gets smaller and smaller, only one is left. He is married “to a Kennedy” and has high political aspirations. But will he live long enough to see them happen?

As with all the Spider Shepherd books, Stephen Leather paints a sharp clear picture of his characters. They are alive and breathing; Leather’s ear for dialogue with all its nuances is, as usual, spot on. Shepherd is  interesting to read about and like the other books in the series you lose nothing by not reading them in order. Spider knows right from wrong and he  also realises that the world is full of a lot of grey areas. He deftly and with no qualms steps from the black and white world into this grey area in his undercover world.

Despite this book being somewhat “early on” in the Spider Shepherd books, the writing is just as crisp as in his later books. Published initially in 2008, Dead Men gives a bit more of an insight on Shepherd and on Charlie, while letting us into Richard Yokely’s world a bit more.

I would give Dead Men a 5 out of 5 stars for not only being a great paced action thriller but also a mystery of very enjoyable difficulty.