I thought THE MARINE, the previous action thriller starring the WWE’s John Cena, was a surprisingly good, smartly written, and well-acted film. So I hoped that Cena’s latest film, 12 ROUNDS, would be pretty good, too.
In this one, Cena plays a New Orleans beat cop who stumbles into an FBI operation to catch a notorious international arms dealer. He winds up catching the guy and getting promoted to detective along with his partner. But a year later, the brilliant, ruthless villain escapes from prison and returns to New Orleans bent on revenge. He takes Cena’s girlfriend hostage and starts making our hero deal with all sorts of intricately plotted, deadly challenges (the twelve rounds of the title) in order to save her. Needless to say, mayhem ensues. Stuff blows up real good. Cena does a lot of runnin’, jumpin’, and fightin’. But then . . .
Ah, but then 12 ROUNDS turns into one of the most cleverly plotted movies I’ve seen in a long time, and as far as I could tell, all the twists were set up fairly. Some of them you’ll probably be able to predict, but all I can say is that I was surprised a number of times, and I love being surprised by a movie.
Cena handles the action scenes just fine, and he’s a pretty darned good actor, too. He has a very capable supporting cast in this one including Ashley Scott and Steve Harris. The director is Renny Harlin, who may not be the A-list director he was fifteen or twenty years ago but still knows how to put together a pretty entertaining film. (And doggone it, I still think CUTTHROAT ISLAND and THE LONG KISS GOODNIGHT are good movies!)
So not only was I not disappointed by 12 ROUNDS, I was very impressed by it, and if you enjoy intelligent action thrillers, I highly recommend it. And I’m looking forward to Cena’s next film.
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