By Robert Mann.
Following the successful transition of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson from wrestler to actor, a number of other wrestlers have also tried their hand at acting and the WWE has even established its own film production company. Unlike Dwayne Johnson, however, who has proven himself to be both a decent actor and an extremely entertaining screen presence, other former wrestlers, such as John Cena, have not been nearly as successful in their transition. John Cena’s first film The Marine was a passable and forgettable action flick that was more like what you would expect from a straight to DVD action movie (in fact it was released straight to DVD here in the UK) than what you would expect from a trip to the cinema, and it proved to be a big flop on its release in the US. Nonetheless, it didn’t stop Cena getting another chance, as his second film is now upon us, 12 Rounds, brought to you by the once successful Renny Harlin, director of Die Hard 2, who hasn’t had much success for some time now. Suffice to say, with the combination of John Cena and Renny Harlin you will know exactly what to expect from this film without seeing as much as a trailer for it.
A year ago, Detective Danny Fisher (John Cena) apprehended dangerous terrorist Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen), and in the process Miles’ partner is killed. Now, on the anniversary of that day, Miles has escaped prison and has kidnapped Danny’s girlfriend Molly Porter (Ashley Scott), forcing him to play a game consisting of 12 rounds in order to save her life. Thus, Danny sets out carrying out the instructions given to him which are part of a carefully plotted plan that takes him through the streets of New Orleans. However, with each round becoming more dangerous and the stakes getting higher Danny must race to save the life of the woman he loves before it is too late. But is it really as simple as it sounds or is Miles in fact planning something that is far bigger than his revenge.
Considering the extremely weak reception that this film received at the US box office and the fact that previous John Cena starrer The Marine was released straight to DVD here, it comes as quite a surprise that this film actually got a cinema release at all. Because, frankly everything about this film seems like it was destined for a DVD only release. The acting in general is extremely mediocre with John Cena lacking the charisma of Dwayne Johnson and not being a very good actor in his own right, making for quite a dull and unappealing protagonist, while Aidan Gillen makes for an extremely forgettable bad guy. This isn’t entirely the fault of the actors, however, as the script they are working from is tired and predictable and packed full of clichés with dialogue that even the most unimaginative of screen writer could have come up with. The director’s side of things doesn’t hold up much better either with the shaky cinematography really becoming extremely annoying and the film generally failing to be particularly engaging. The one area where the film is successful, at least partially, however, is the action sequences, which do manage to provide a satisfactory level of thrills, even if they are often equivalent to anything you could get in a straight to DVD action flick, and they do shamelessly rip off the action sequences of other, much better films.
As such, they are extremely predictable, offering nothing that any ardent action fan won’t have seen many times before, and that essentially ticks item off a list of classic horror staples. A foot chase over fences. Check. A race against time to save the protagonist’s kidnapped wife. Check. An escape from a falling elevator. Check. A bomb on a bus. Check. A race to stop a runaway street car. Check. A jump onto, and out of, a helicopter in mid flight. Check. Lots and lots of explosions. Check many times over. Just count how many films you can see being ripped off from this list and you will get an idea of how predictable this film is. So, all in all, 12 Rounds is an action movie that is as by the numbers as it gets, and one that you will have little recollection of for long after seeing it. If you are looking for a film that features all of the above, however, this is a film that has a degree of entertainment value.
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