March 28, 2009
12 Rounds: Cena it all before
By LIZ BRAUN - Toronto Sun
If action movies are your thing, 12 Rounds should fit the bill.
Well, provided you're not allergic to stupid.
WWE superstar John Cena stars in 12 Rounds as New Orleans police officer Danny Fisher.
The story begins with the FBI pursuit of an international terrorist named Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen) who's in New Orleans to get a case full of diamonds; by chance, Danny Fisher and his partner are responsible for catching the guy.
They get promoted.
The villain goes to prison.
A year later, things change.
Miles Jackson escapes from prison. He wants revenge. He kidnaps Fisher's girlfriend (Ashley Scott) and sets up a series of 12 difficult tasks for Fisher to take on. Shades of Hercules! It's sort of a game, says the bad guy, and if Fisher is successful, he gets his girlfriend back.
Fisher has to follow clues, engage in one death-defying stunt or another, dodge exploding cars and other detritus, and then start all over on the next challenge.
It's a bit like a scavenger hunt with carnage.
Highlights of those 12 tasks? You'll see some jumping out of a burning building, a bit of bomb juggling, a touch of running amok in a fire truck, the odd car chase, big runaway vehicles, tragic falls, people wired up with explosives and fisticuffs on a helicopter.
12 Rounds is too long, and about 80 minutes in you'll give up trying to make sense of the thing. There's no logic to it, which the filmmakers quickly solve by finding another motive altogether for the bad guy. In film terms, that's called cheating.
John Cena is a decent leading man, good enough at the action genre to one day become governor of California, we have no doubt. He's got some help in the corners from Brian White, who plays his police partner, and from Steve Harris, who plays a bad-tempered FBI agent.
In general, however, character development has no part to play in 12 Rounds.
The movie has decent moments of humour and plenty of adrenalin; the stunts are better than average, too. Trouble is, there isn't much you haven't seen before.
And you know what familiarity breeds.