12 Rounds (2009)

12 Rounds (2009)

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"Yeah, honey? I had a minor accident when cooking dinner."
“Yeah, honey? I had a minor accident when cooking dinner.”

Twitter Plot Summary: After his girlfriend is kidnapped, John Cena has to complete 12 challenges to save her.

Genre: Action/Crime/Thriller

Director: Renny Harlin

Key Cast: John Cena, Aiden Gillen, Ashley Scott, Steve Harris, Brian White, Gonzalo Menendez, Taylor Cole.

Five Point Summary:

1. Ashley Scott: WWE Studios alumni and clearly not good enough to do real films…
2. So the villain makes him do 12 challenges. Just because.
3. So it’s basically Die Hard 3 minus Samuel L Jackson? Bah.
4. No way is that Samoan guy getting off that lift.
5. A final “spectacular” showdown. Entertaining perhaps, but definitely not spectacular.

Danny Fisher (Cena) looks like he has it all. He’s a detective in the police force, he’s just moved in with his girlfriend Molly Porter (WWE Studios favourite Ashley Scott), and they have a tiny dog. This is all well and good, but 12 months ago Fisher caught nasty chap Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen) which accidentally led to the death of Jackson’s bit of fluff played by Taylor Cole. Jackson kidnaps Porter and sets Fisher 12 challenges in order to save her.

WWE Studios should really try hiring actual movie stars for their films rather than dropping their own wrestling talent into the mix. Whilst it’s nice to see said wrestling talent do something different like beating people up and partaking in scripted action…. no,,that doesn’t work does it? Let’s just say that you get what you pay for when you watch something made by WWE Films, so you should know exactly what to expect when you go in. Unless you don’t know it’s a WWE Films production beforehand, in which case you have my sympathies.

It’s completely derivative of just about every action film ever made, but it’s fun and as preposterous as anything related to the wrestling world can be. WWE know their audience at least – big explosions, kinetic action and a named wrestler in the title role. If you add to this mix the presence of famed director Renny Harlin (Cliffhanger, Deep Blue Sea) then you have a winning recipe. What can go wrong?

There are more comfortable ways to travel.
There are more comfortable ways to travel.

Well, quite a bit as it happens. Jackson is a poor villain, putting Fisher through a number of tasks without any real endgame to fall back on. If he was that desperate to take Fisher out of the equation then he should have sent him on a wild goose chase, a la Die Hard With A Vengeance. I’m afraid comparisons between the two films are inevitable, although at least Simon Gruber had a half decent plan in the third Die Hard. Aiden Gillen plays a good villain, but the character really needs to spend a bit more time coming up with a plan rather than stealing ideas from other films. The action set pieces look cheap, but this is counterbalanced by Harlin’s directorial hand and, dare I say it, earnest performances that fall just on the right side of cheese.

Despite my possibly negative comments, it’s also very entertaining. Derivative it may be, but at least the script has a bit of fun along the way. One scene has Cena and a large Samoan trying to solve a puzzle before the lift they’re in  plummets to the ground, which is both daft and innovative at the same time. Fisher butting heads with the police could have been, and them working out how all of the rounds/challenges link together feels a little strained, but you can sort of forgive it for a few issues like that because the action is relatively entertaining. It’s not spectacular and you can tell the budget isn’t there to provide Harlin’s usual level of insanity, but it’ll do. It’s easy to be negative about a WWE Films production, but some of them are worth a go even if they’re not exceptional action movies. Suffice to say they usually get the job done, and 12 Rounds is no exception.

Favourite scene: Fisher’s house just blows up. The action’s somewhat less impressive from that point forward.

Quote: “I’m training the world’s most dominant pug. He’s going through a bulking phase.”

Silly Moment: Fisher tries to save an overweight Samoan from plummeting to his death atop a lift. As soon as he says he has a family you know he’s toast.

Score: 3/5

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