12 Rounds (2009) – Review

2 1/2 Stars


Renny Harlin’s latest over-directed guilty pleasure is a high energy action romp with a likable leading man in WWE superstar John Cena. It’s too bad the anemic script is a hodgepodge of better films (Die Hard 3, Speed most notably) because Cena, Harlin and audiences deserve better from this type of well produced and handsomely shot throwback. Bringing a wily vibe and the appropriate sense of mischief, Richard Gere look alike Aidan Gillen makes for a perfectly slimy villain. The size difference between the slightly built Gillen and the mesomorph Cena is comical but never a factor since the actors share one very quick scene together.

The action is non-stop for the first hour before a lull sets in that almost sinks the picture, until a highly improbable aerial finale caps the movie off in ludicrous fashion. A sequence featuring a runaway trolley is one of the films’ best set-pieces. Renny Harlin shows he can still stage and execute an effective action sequence but after a while the whole enterprise feels too perfunctory. Despite the presence of Cena and a hardworking cast and director I cannot quite recommend 12 rounds because it’s just too familiar.

Director: Renny Harlin
Stars: John Cena, Aidan Gillen, Ashley Scott

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