Directed by: Renny Harlin
Premise: A police detective’s (John Cena) girlfriend is kidnapped by a criminal he put away. To get her back, the detective must complete twelve tasks.
What Works: John Cena works as a kind of stock action hero in the mold of performers like Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, and Jean Claude Van Damme. The picture takes some time early on to establish the relationship between Cena’s character and his girlfriend (Ashley Scott) and it makes the lead character likeable and a little more human, even if it does rely quite a bit on cliché.
What Doesn’t: The trouble with 12 Rounds is that the film seems about ten to twenty years behind the times. It plays very much like the renegade cop films of the 1980s and early 90s like Out for Justice, Death Warrant, and Lethal Weapon. But the trouble is that 12 Rounds has no perspective on what it is; it’s not ironic about it nor does not have the charm of those older films or their stars. Most of 12 Rounds is, instead, rather flat. The hero is not very heroic, the villain is not very villainous, and the action scenes are not very exciting. Director Renny Harlin has pulled off effective action pictures in the past with films like Cliffhanger and Die Hard 2, but here many of the scenes lack energy or drama.
Bottom Line: 12 Rounds looks and feels like a direct-to-video picture. The film needs of shot of adrenaline or creativity to wake it out of its malaise.
Episode: #235 (April 12, 2009)