One would think that after The Marine Hollywood would have decided that John Cena wasn't cut out for movies, but the professional wrestler is back, this time to save his wife from the hands of an evil mastermind, in 12 Rounds.
If that sounds like the plot of The Marine only more absurd, you're not alone. In 12 Rounds though, you see, Cena is a police detective who is accidentally responsible for the death of the bad guy's hot girlfriend. Fearing he may never get someone as hot as her again, the bad guy (Aidan Gillen) breaks out of prison a year later (I don't believe the movie ever explains how to a satisfying degree), kidnaps Cena's wife (Ashley Scott), blows up their house and then forces Cena to do 12 rounds of nearly impossible and even more implausible tasks to get her back. It's like Die Hard with a Vengeance, only without Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson and entertainment value.
The Marine, as silly and dumb as it was, at least had its share of nonstop action. We got to see Cena run around and kill people, and that was enough to make it bearable. 12 Rounds, unfortunately, is not so kind to the audience. The pacing is sloppy, the screenplay dumbed down to a level that Cena can handle and the acting horrendous. Even Aidan Gillen, who played Councilman Tommy Carcetti in "The Wire," can't pull off an effective villain.
Renny Harlin, who actually directed Die Hard 2, is responsible for this movie, but before we gasp and say, "How could he resort to something like this?" we must remember that he is also responsible for such films as The Long Kiss Goodnight and Cutthroat Island. But given that he did also make Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2, I have to ask, how in Hell could he resort to something like this? 12 Rounds is low, even for Mr. Harlin.
Even when you're expecting nothing but mindless action, 12 Rounds is a letdown. Many of the "rounds" barely held my attention, and when they did, it was because they were rip-offs of scenes from other, better movies. The most memorable sequence is one where Cena tries to stop an out-of-control trolley, which is fine except that Michael Bay did something much better in The Rock - and that sequence involved hills.
The only good thing about 12 Rounds is that you can literally see John Cena's action career coming to its end at that split second where the final scene ends and the thank-God-they're-here closing credits begin.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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