Urban Cinefile  
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday December 13, 2019 


When New Orleans Detective Danny Fisher (John Cena) finds himself in the wrong place at the right time to stop international thief Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen) get away with a brief case full of stolen diamonds, Miles' girlfriend is accidentally killed. A year later, when Miles escapes from prison with revenge on his mind, he tracks down Danny, kidnaps his girlfriend Molly (Ashley Scott) and demands he completes 12 tasks in order save Molly's life.

Review by Louise Keller:
Aimed to keep your pulse rate pounding without the need to take a single gasp for air, this big-budget action thriller excels at dishing out a plot that's a bit like a chess game on speed. With Renny Harlin at the helm, you know exactly what you're in for, and deliver he does with an onslaught of booming stunts and a likeable hero in the shape of wrestling superstar John Cena. Between action pieces there's a ho-hum storyline involving Cena's conscientious detective, his kidnapped girlfriend (Ashley Scott) and Aiden Gillen's ruthless international arms dealer who delivers cryptic clues with high stakes. If you can cope with the constantly shaky camera work and hyperactive editing, 12 Rounds is an entertaining thrill-ride, especially if the side of your brain that does all the thinking craves a rest.

This is the first time Australian audiences have the chance to see Cena on the big screen (his 2006 screen debut, The Marine which was partly shot in Australia, was only released on DVD). He impressed then and he impresses now. A cross between Arnold Schwarzenegger and a beefed-up Matt Damon, every muscle of Cena's 6 ft 1in frame is put to use as he throws himself into harm's way during thrilling car chases, exploding lift shafts, out-of-control speeding street-cars and about-to-explode helicopters. Ideas have been borrowed and reworked from various sources: Mark Gordon, who is credited as one of the six producers, was also a producer for Jan de Bont's Speed, from where one key plot point may have originated.

The relationships between Cena's Danny, his girlfriend Molly and the Steve Harris' FBI agent are nicely drawn but unfortunately, largely due to implausible scripting, Gillen's evil revenge-seeking Miles is the film's weakest link (he seems to be everywhere and manages to execute intricate plots without going through the motions). Trevor Rabin's score is pitched precisely to accentuate the tension and excitement and if you're in the mood, hang in there for the tumultuous ride as John Cena heroically leads us through every round, one thrill at a time.

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(US, 2008)

CAST: John Cena, Aidan Gillen, Ashley Scott, J. Omar Castro, Travis Davis, Kyle Russell Clements, Taylor Cole, Kim Collins

PRODUCER: Becki Cross Trujillo, Mark Gordon, Renny Harlin, Mike Lake, Josh McLaughlin, Vince McMahon

DIRECTOR: Renny Harlin

SCRIPT: Daniel Kunka


EDITOR: Brian Berdan

MUSIC: Trevor Rabin


RUNNING TIME: 108 minutes



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