"12 Rounds" is a very apt title, not just because it sounds like a cool action movie name, but because that's what you feel like you've completed when the movie is over.
Vince McMahon and his WWE Films created this film as a vehicle for their popular star John Cena, his second lead role, following up 2007's "The Marine," in which Cena plays a man in uniform who has to rescue his wife from the bad guys by way of lots of car chases, shootouts, fistfights, and explosions.
Here Cena stretches his acting muscles, playing a cop who has to rescue his wife from the bad guys by way of car chases, shootouts, fistfights and explosions.
Here's the gist of the story: Cena plays beefy cop Danny Fisher, pursuing a criminal named Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen) and his wife. In the process, Jackson's wife is hit by a car and killed. Jackson blames Fisher for her death, and a year later gets out of prison (how we never find out...was he released? Escape?) and sets in motion his plan at vengeance in the form of 12 rounds of games, kidnapping Fisher's wife (Ashley Scott), and leading him around town in game after dangerous game, calling to taunt him as he gives him his next assignment.
If this all sounds like "Die Hard with a Vengeance," you'd be right. It's very easy to see the template working. Director Renny Harlin, who directed "Die Hard 2" among other films, virtually uses a action movie cliche checklist in putting the film together, just plugging them in whether they make sense or not.
The film is loud and throbbing, with bad acting and little real entertainment, even in an action film sense. The production is stagy, and the execution, of concepts that are hardly unique or even interesting, is so-so at best. Mostly Cena is doing things like jumping off buildings onto helicopters, smashing out windshields to stop runaway trolleys, and diving away from slo-mo explosions.
The DVD extras are surprisingly packed. Aside from the unrated and theatrical cuts of the movie, there are two commentary tracks (because there's so much to discuss here), alternate endings (which I didn't watch, but let me say if the one they used is the best of them, I didn't miss much), a "gag reel" and a featurette on Cena doing his own stunts.
As an actor, Cena is stiffer than a Stan Hansen clothesline, but not quite as charismatic. He definitely needs acting lessons if he hopes to be a real star, but my feeling is he's just fooling around making movies with Vince McMahon, and his future is in the squared circle, not the big screen.
Let's put it this way: he definitely can't smell what Dwayne Johnson is cooking.
Rating: 2 Yaps out of 5 DVD extras: 3 Yaps out of 5