Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

You good people out there continue to confuse Hollywood studio executives to no end. So I catch this movie ’12 rounds’ directed by noted action director Renny Harlin and starring WWE strongman John Cena and it wasn’t all that bad. Completely ridiculous perhaps and certainly nothing I’d define as good, but still passable action entertainment and yet you people avoid this thing in the theaters like it has the cooties. Then I go to the critics screening of ‘Fast and Furious’ which quite honestly is really no better than this movie as it too has plenty action, a pumped up star with a huge head attached to his shoulders and has a story that is even more nonsensical than ‘12 Rounds’ and you fine people make that movie a record breaker to the tune of over 70 millions dollars over a three day period. What in the hell? Why has ‘12 Rounds’ failed so miserably while ‘Fast and Furious’ is breaking records? Is Vin Diesel worth 70 million dollars over John Cena? The public certainly didn’t think that in the case of ‘Babylon A.D.’. If you have the answer to this question and why people go see what they see, then you have a multi-million dollar future as movie executive waiting for you. For real.

‘12 Rounds’ starts with us meeting super asshole FBI Agent George Aiken (Steve Harris) on a stakeout attempting to bring down his arch nemesis, international Irish Terrorist Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen). Right off the bat let me tell you Aiden Gillen has gotta be one of the worst main villains in an action movie that I’ve seen in recent history. He seems more like a rogue butler than an international terrorist and then there was his fluctuating accent. At first I’m thinking that ‘whoa, dude is really struggling to maintain that Irish accent’ considering how it fluctuated from like sentence to sentence, then I find out that Mr. Gillen is actually Irish, thus I guess he was struggling to suppress that accent. I guess. I don’t know. I don’t even know if he was supposed to be Irish in this movie truth be told.

Anyway, the stakeout goes all to hell, the terrorist gets away and this terrorist and his girlfriend Erika (Taylor Cole) would’ve made a clean break out of New Orleans if by pure dumb luck Police officer Danny Fisher and his wise-cracking African American partner Hank (Brian J. White) hadn’t stumbled across the terrorist making his getaway which results in thrilling chase, Fisher on foot and the terrorist in a BMW, with the terrorist getting run down by this cat on foot (?) and his girl tragically going head up with a GMC Yukon. The Yukon won, the terrorist swears vengeance.

A year later on the strength of that collar Danny and Hank are detectives and Danny is loving his live-in girlfriend Molly (Ashley Scott), despite their occasional issues. What Danny doesn’t know is that Miles has busted out the joint and is now back in New Orleans with revenge on his mind. He’s done blowed up my man’s car, blowed up his house, blowed up his plumber and has snatched his girl. Take my girl man, but do you have any idea how hard it is to find a decent plumber? So Miles has crafted a game for Danny to play in which Danny has to run through series of twelve death defying events, each increasing in difficulty. Each time he succeeds the game goes on to the next round but should he fail… Molly gets it bad. But is it simple revenge or is something else at stake here?

I think I remember this concept from an old Starsky and Hutch episode in which the blonde one… Hutch maybe? Had to race across town from phone booth to phone booth in an allotted amount of time to keep somebody from blowing up Starsky – his lover. I’m convinced those two were doing each other. That’s not all that this WWE production borrows liberally from as this movie doesn’t have an original, fresh or uniquely presented bone it its 100 minute body. Speed, Die-Hard, Commando, Lethal Weapon… ‘12 Rounds’ is virtual homage to the 80’s action movie with a veteran 80’s action movie director pulling the strings. But this doesn’t mean that ‘12 Rounds’ is bad movie, just a well worn one.

The problems with the movie are vast with one being that the main villain sucks as we have observed earlier, as the rounds go on the labyrinthine list of events that have to occur to make these situations work become more and more unbelievable, and mind you we’ve already suspended belief as much as we could to this point. If I’m not mistaken, even though they told us that Molly worked at a hospital I don’t think they told us what she did at this hospital which is pretty key to the whole crux of the story and piles on liberally to the loads of implausibility that we are already dealing with in this flick.

However like we said with ‘Fast and Furious’ which is even dumber than this movie, if you watch it on a big screen with great sound it’s still fun to look at. The action rarely slows down, though the movie is still stupid enough to allow you to question it while we’re in the middle of these glorious action scenes, John Cena might not be Robert DeNiro but he is big, athletic, has a huge square head and has ‘action hero’ written all over him. Things blow up, cars crash, bullets fly, elevators plummet, and people die. Though nobody really seems to care about the dead people for the most part.

Why people have avoided this exercise in explosive nonsense and have flocked to that other exercise in explosive nonsense is beyond me but in my worthless opinion one really isn’t much better than the other, but both are fairly glorious time wasters. However one is probably going get a sequel and the other will die a horrible Wal-Mart bargain bin DVD death. Lord only knows why this is the case.

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