Sunday, August 16, 2009

12 Rounds

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.


Cullen Gallagher said...

I need a good action thriller. Been far too long since I've seen one.

Randy Johnson said...

Have to keep my eye out for this one. I, too, liked the marine. Naturally Cena is a decent actor. After all, he is a professional wrestler.

Juri said...

You didn't mention this, but the film was directed by Renny Harlin, who originally hails from Finland. His career has been pretty down (he and his producer here have been trying to do a Very Big Movie in Finland, but haven't found enough support) and many thought 12 ROUNDS was only a half-hearted attempt to make him some money, as was the shark film, DEEP WATER BLUE (or something like that; forgot the actual title - the film isn't really very good). 12 ROUNDS got pretty bad reviews here and many said it wouldn't have made it into cinema, if it were not for Renny Harlin, who after DIE HARD II and some other films is something of a national hero.

Brian Drake said...

James, Thank you for the review. When I saw the previews I thought 12 ROUNDS looked predictable, but if you say it surprised you I'll give it a shot.

By the way, for you and your regular readers, I've started my own blog on things hardboiled that you might like. Current reviews are of Paul Cain's work and Hammett's last novel. Give it a click and see what you think: