Reviewed by Steven Wilson of MainEventRadio.com.
Leading up to the release of 12 Rounds starring John Cena the WWE refused to screen the film for film critics. Similar treatments were given to their previous film’s however See No Evil premiered at film festivals before it was wide released and thus fans got a chance to know what to expect. For 12 rounds we instead faced a barrage of promo’s and commercials on WWE television trying to convince their dwindling number of marks to show up in droves in hopes of this not being another one of their films “Condemned” to major financial loss. A review in the Herald Sun in Australia called the film “a big dumb lug of an action movie fronted by a big dumb lug named John Cena” and went on to say acting was no friend of the professional wrestler. Despite this I decided to head out and watch the film and although its far from being a smash hit, its not as bad as those at the Herald has made it out to be. For those wondering there are no major spoilers in my review, there is some details on how the story forms but nothing that would ruin the movie for you so please feel free to read on.
I arrived at the theater while the previews were rolling and took a quick look around couting about 15 to 20 heads in the large Montreal theater I was watching the film in. With the way the cinema industry is nowadays I was not too surprised but I thought more Cena marks would of shown up that 15. Irregardless the film begins as the FBI is in the middle of an attempted capture of crafty criminal named Miles Jackson, who has eluded the FBI’s reach for years. It does not take long for the action to get going, the opening 15 minutes of the film is pretty much a non stop blitz of chasing action. Cena, who is a local police officer in the lower 9 of New Orleans eventually plays a major role in the capture of the criminal, but not without the casualty of the Jackson’s accomplice. It’s because of this that Jackson (played by Aidan Gillen) swears that he will get revenge. Flash forward a year later and Cena’s character is now a detective of the New Orleans Police department, and his life quickly spirals into hell when he gets the call from Jackson informing him that he has escaped from prison, and has just kidnapped Cena’s girlfriend, and if he wants to have any chance of seeing her again he has to enter a game of 12 deadly rounds through the city of New Orleans.
Running an hour and 48 minutes the film is definitely action packed. Most action films will have its spurts of action followed by a slow down but 12 Rounds almost never takes a breather. It’s evident that the WWE wanted to keep the viewers on the edge of their seat and if you’re an action mark then the action itself will not let you down. Of course there is those moments where you say to yourself what you just saw is impossible, but much like watching wrestling you need to suspend your beliefs every once in a while and let it slide.
The acting on the other hand is a whole other barrel of monkeys. Much like The Marine this film is made by the strong performance of the villain. Aidan Gillen’s character is sophisticated and twisted. Your likely to remember his performance more than anything. Meanwhile John Cena’s performance, while not horrible, is nothing special either. I feel as though they went to great stretches to make sure that Cena’s character stay typical to avoid any sort of major criticism, but in the end it caused him to be outshined by Gillen.
Ultimately I would call this a “wait for the DVD” movie. The film is unlikely to rake it in from the box office numbers but is likely to move a decent amount of DVD’s and while some may question why the WWE would even bother to continue putting out theatrical releases instead of straight to DVD, as long as it breaks even with DVD sales it really doesn’t matter what the critics say.