Starring: John Cena, Ashley Scott, Aidan Gillen, Steve Harris
Running time: 108 minutes
Directed By: Renny Harlin
Written By: Daniel Kunka
12 Rounds is an action film with clichéd, generic ideas. It must have been pitched as Die Hard With A Vengeance crossed with Speed, starring a wrestler. This is basically what this film is. It is also directed by Renny Harlin who directed Die Hard 2, so if you haven't seen this film the opening of this review has you up to speed of what it is all about as it is very generic and recycled. However it is still a lot of fun and not the worst film in the world.
The story follows a hero local cop (Cena) who in the opening scene manages to capture a notorious terrorist who has evaded arrest for years, however when Cena captures him he is also the reason behind the terrorist's girlfriend being killed. Due to this our villain promises that he will avenge her. One year later and Miles Jackson (the terrorist played by Aidan Gillen) has escaped from jail and contacts Cena (who is now a detective). He has taken Cena's girlfriend (Scott) hostage and has set 12 tasks for Cena to complete in order to see his girlfriend again. Each round either involves Cena making a choice of himself dying or someone else, or attempting to stop a runaway cable car. This is where most the fun comes in because the action scenes are what make this film alright, and Renny Harlin has often made films that have some fun action scenes in them.
The set up of the film is very much like Die Hard With A Vengeance, which is about a cop having to obey a game of 'Simon says' leading him around New York. Despite the plots being roughly the same Die Hard With A Vengeance is an awful lot better. Firstly the reason for this is the lead actor just isn't charismatic enough to be a hero. This is often a problem when wrestlers turn into actors because they can't really show a range of emotion. John Cena isn't bad at the action sequences and he does make for an action hero in that respect, however when he is involved in dialogue or any emotionally impacting scenes he is poor. I can't imagine him ever getting a character driven role in a movie. The villain Miles Jackson, played by Aidan Gillen is also unconvincing. He is cool and calculating but he just doesn't seem tough enough to have someone like John Cena be afraid of him. He also manages to set up bombs and tasks around the city in a very short time and it all is very implausible. Gillen isn't particularly bad in the role I just feel that he was miscast and that the wrestler should probably have been the bad guy as he looks tough. Ashley Scott is also unconvincing and wasn't really used other than to cry. Her delivery of dialogue was one of her major downfalls but this is also because the script is so typical and unimaginable. The final act of the film becomes an absolute farce and is really over the top. This is the point where the dialogue becomes poor, the CGI looks over the top, the acting takes a down step, and the fighting is implausible. There are scenes that ruin the fun such as this sequence, but there are some scenes that are action packed and really good. The sequence involving the runaway cable car is an exciting thrill ride and is one of the moments that is a lot of fun and keeps you gripped.
I can't really slate the film and it isn't one that I am going to fall in love with. Like I have said many times, it is a lot of fun. I never particularly became bored but I did roll my eyes on several occasions, and found some of the acting and writing a little predictable, but this is what I expected from a film of this nature. It is a carbon copy of other action films, and although that isn't particularly a bad thing it is a reason why this film will never be anything more than a watch when there is nothing else to do. It also proves that wrestlers are not the greatest actors and that Cena will never appear in anything deeper than a generic action film.
2.5 / 5
Next film to review: SWINGERS