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Sunday, 19 April 2009

12 Rounds

The big, big problem with 12 Rounds isn't that it's one of those action films with a plot so crazy-dumb even those of us who love action films won't be able to stop ourselves from thinking "this is pretty crazy-dumb". Usually that's a good thing, though this film's plot is lamer than most: a year after arresting an international arms dealer (an arrest that led to the arms dealer's girlfriend being accidentally killed), a New Orleans cop (wrestler John Cena) gets a call telling him the arms dealer has broken out of jail, kidnapped his girlfriend, and is about to blow up his house with him in it. If he ever wants to see his girlfriend again, he'll have to follow the arms dealer's instructions through a series of tests (or "rounds") that involve things like jumping out of a building, escaping a plummeting lift, driving a fire truck like a maniac, trying to save people on an out-of-control tram, and so on. There's a plot twist slightly reminiscent of the first Die Hard so at least they're ripping off quality, but otherwise this series of tests is a whole lot of smoke but not much fire. But again, that's not this film's real problem, as director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) manages to keep things ticking along at a reasonable rate. The problem is Cena himself: while no-one expects a wrestler to be much of an actor, and for the most part Cena is no better or worse than required, he does prove to be surprisingly convincing in the handful of scenes where he's required to express remorse. Huh? Who wants to see an action hero who only seems human when he's saying sorry? Why is he even saying sorry in the first place? Maybe in his next film he'll be saying sorry the action hero way - with a bullet - but based on this lame effort he may not get that chance.

Anthony Morris (this review appeared in Forte #449)