12 ROUNDS = One Helluva Ride
12 ROUNDS (action thriller)
Starring: John Cena (pictured), Ashley Scott, Brian J. White, Taylor Cole, Aidan Gillen, Steve Harris, Lara Grice and Billy Slaughter
Director: Renny Harlin
Time: 105 mins
Rating: * * * (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: If you are longing for an action thriller you can sink your teeth into, this one should fit
the bill. 12 Rounds is packed with chases and crashes, shootouts and blow-ups and surprises. Sure, plotholes abound but with such a fast-paced script that keeps you on the edge of your seat, you are not going to bother too much about them. Leave your brain in neutral and enjoy the ride...
THE PLOT: New Orleans cop Danny Fisher (John Cena, above) and his partner Hank Carver (Brian J. White) are on their routine rounds when they encounter international thief Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen) trying to flee an FBI manhunt clutching a briefcase full of stolen diamonds.
When Danny tries to arrest the suspect, Miles' girlfriend is accidentally killed. A year later, Miles escapes from prison and plans an elaborate revenge. He tracks down Danny, kidnaps his girlfriend
Molly (Ashley Scott) and demands that he completes 12 tasks in order to save Molly's life.
Meanwhile, Special Agent George Aiken (Steve Harris), who has been tracking Miles for years, goes all out to make sure his target does not get away this time around.
HITS & MISSES: Finnish director Renny Harlin, who gave us Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger and Deep Blue Sea, is back on the saddle with this one. 12 Rounds looks set to open with a bang in Malaysia (the first country slotted for the film's release) and it should boost Harlin's career, especially after that dismal failure that was Cutthroat Island which he made with his wife Geena Davis in 1995.
In John Cena (a wrestling superstar like Dwayne Johnson, et al), Harlin has a new action hero whose relationships with his girlfriend Molly and partner Hank are nicely developed in between the action sequences. Cena's role is not a demanding one but we can all root for him in his frantic bid to save the woman he loves. Harris, too, is memorable as the federal agent who also has an agenda of his own.
The most implausible character is Gillen's Miles who seems to be endowed with superhuman powers in being able to execute complex plots seemingly by remote control. Still, Gillen is menacing enough to give us goose bumps whenever he confronts Danny and Molly.
THE LOWDOWN: Be among the first in the world to play 12 Rounds with Cena.