John Cena stars in this mindless explosive videogame of a movie. It's the chance for WWE fans to see their hero on the big screen; one who hasn't deserted them (yet) like Dwayne Johnson (once The Rock) did.
12 Rounds is designed like an expansive steel-cage-match that only a Herculean type like Cena's Danny Fisher could undertake. It's arguably a much more muscular part for the physical specimen who made his debut in The Marine to little theatrical success.
In Renny Harlin's big-budgeted fest, Fisher is the Big Easy detective who does his job against international arms dealing Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen) when it comes to a briefcase of snatched diamonds. But, Danny is in the wrong place at the right time as the bad guy's lover meets an unexpected demise. That triggers a prison escape and vengeance for Miles to kidnap Danny's significant other, Molly (Ashley Scott), and meeting a list of a dozen items to preserve her existence.
The film's core fans will have no problem buying into the premise of the film, as the direction and plotting might seem a little like the recent Taken or Live Free or Die Hard combined in a very hyperactive way with something like Speed. Yet, the result might be like Dwayne Johnson's in the absurd, hacked up version of Walking Tall (with far less bloody mayhem).
Obviously, 12 Rounds is about the action, so the threadbare plotting involving the durably, conscientious Danny, Molly and the intricately ruthless Jackson. Cena might seem to some if Jason Bourne became a bodybuilding champion. His Danny effortlessly is up for the challenge of wild car chases, or anything about to detonate, whether in the air or in an elevator shaft.
Cena seems to have a likeable nature, and it works in scenes with Scott as Molly and Steve Harris (Quarantine) as an FBI agent. Yet, this shaky cinema (not just the lensing) hardly goes the distance in spite of its pulse pounding mentality because of the wanness of the ubiquitous Miles, who seems to be all-powerful and on top of everything and everyone. So, the fallacious storyline doesn't indicate a shred of evidence to let Gillen do more than ravenously posture to little effect.
For those in the mood, this is a big screen turbo ride with pulsating music to make it go down as dynamic popcorn entertainment, as Harlin dishes out the peril with excessive stuntwork and cutting in the by-the-numbers/going through the motions fashion.