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12 Rounds
Genre Action
Year: 2009
 
Review:

12 Rounds is a gut-busting action thriller in the style of movies like Speed, S.W.A.T., Die Hard 2: With A Vengeance, The Marine and The Italian Job. Wrestler-turn-stuntman, John Cena, makes another appearance as a gung-ho muscle man with a similar effect to the worst aspects of Mark Wahlberg and Channing Tatum. Is it a drinking game or a concept film... you decide for yourself. Either way, 12 Rounds is one of those high concept action thrillers that fixes a framework for our hero, who valiantly fights the evil mastermind (Aiden Gillen) to rescue the girl (Ashley Scott) and save the day.

Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, The Long Kiss Goodnight) directs a fairly predictable story and old-fashioned action movie with plenty of big action set pieces. Action is the keyword in 12 Rounds and there’s no shortage of death-defying stunts, which make up the bulk of 12 Rounds’ appeal. John Cena is not as charming as Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, as rugged as Bruce Willis, as street-wise as Mark Wahlberg or as entertaining as Schwarzenegger, but he fits the mold.

12 Rounds has to rely on the perfect average action man, who seems suitable, but indistinct. He’s a glorified stuntman with a wrestling legacy and devoted following… He can just barely act and fits into the Steven Seagal, Jean Claude Van Damme category on a good day. The best thing about Cena, he does most of his stunts.

He’s set against an irate Irishman (Gillen) with a vendetta, whose mannerisms and demeanor function as a poor man’s Edward Norton. The character is evil, eccentric and almost invincible as he escapes from prison and sets an elaborate payback plan in action. Each round sets a new challenge for the cop, who is taunted with his wife’s ultimate safety in a bid to stop ticking time bombs and booby traps reminiscent of Déjà Vu, Speed and Die Hard 2. 12 Rounds is a tapestry of better action/thrillers and enters the fray under the WWF banner. 12 Rounds lifts the opening chase scene from S.W.A.T., the bomb on the bus concept from Speed and the ferry escapade and damsel in distress from Deja Vu.

Just like wrestling, you’ve got the thrills, the spills and even some frills… but after all the action, shouting matches and challenges – it just feels hollow. There’s very little cerebral activity involved, an unlimited set of stock character figurines to blow up and very little substance beneath all the explosive action. The film does step up in terms of emotional intensity when compared with The Marine, but fades into the background just as soon as the credits roll.

Cena’s lack of charisma or twinkle-in-the-eye "yippee-ka-yay-muthaf**ker" charm shows him up as a wrestler-turn-actor much like a model-turn-actress and it unravels to show some very frayed ends, even with Renny Harlin behind-the-scenes. Uninspired action capers like this deserve to go straight-to-video in the same fashion as veteran action heroes: Seagal, Van Damme and Snipes.

The bottom line: Mindnumbing.

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