Cena faces off with dogs, bicyclists in ’12 Rounds’

Fri, May 1, 2009

Featured, Goat, Reviews

goat“12 Rounds” is not a good movie.

Hell, it’s not even a very good action movie.

I wanted to like it. I really did. Simply crunching some numbers on this film, it seems destined for success.

For starters, you’ve got John Cena in the starring role. The professional wrestler-turned-actor is made for the action genre. He’s built like a tank, is fairly charismatic and has declared his love for “Commando” in past interviews. He gave a somewhat “meh” performance in “The Marine,” but I’m willing to give anyone a second chance.

The plot isn’t anything to write home about, but that really shouldn’t matter. I’m not expecting to see Cena deliver some sort of Tour de Force performance here — just punch a few dudes, blow up some stuff, toss in a few memorable one-liners and let’s call it a day.

And with seasoned director Renny Harlin is at the helm, we’ll ideally get the same visual flair he showcased in blockbusters like “Die Hard 2″ and “Cliffhanger.”

While all of this sounds fine and dandy, the final product is not as stellar as one might expect.

Jackson and Coyne...separated at birth?

The movie kicks off with Cena and his partner chasing down Miles Jackson, a supposedly badass terrorist who looks eerily like Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. Jackson is on the run from the FBI and, after managing to successfully evade them, finds himself in Cena’s cross-hairs. A lengthy chase between the two involves Cena’s partner getting shot in the ass, a healthy amount of cock-blocking and a ton of strange quasi-Irish accent on Jackson’s part. Cena eventually manages to stop their getaway car with a boat…but when Jackson and his unnamed lady friend attempt to run away she is lit up by an SUV. Jackson vows revenge and Cena feels remorseful.

Exactly one year later, Jackson escapes from prison and kidnaps Cena’s girlfriend. He tells him the only way he’ll be seeing her again is by playing a game with him, featuring 12 impossible challenges Cena must overcome. He stops a speeding streetcar, blazes across town in a fire truck and climbs out of a falling elevator all along the way to finally doling out some vigilante justice on Jackson.

It may be heavily cribbed from “Die Hard: With a Vengeance” with strange hints of “Saw” sprinkled throughout, but the plot managed to maintain my interest for the 90 minutes I was watching. The real problem with this movie is that it builds up your hate for Jackson to the point where you can’t wait to see him get his, only for Cena to punk out and not finish the job. Sure he beats him down, but his girlfriend (played by the lovely Ashley Scott) is the one to actually deliver the one-liner just before his untimely demise. With a helicopter’s engines failing, she kicks a beaten Jackson in the face and says, “You land it…bitch.”

The writers seem to have liked that line a lot, as they basically lifted it from an earlier scene of the film. As Cena’s partner is confronting one of Jackson’s minions in a warehouse (which looks oddly similar to one seen in the “Saw” films) around 30 minutes earlier in the film, a bomb is suddenly activated in the room both men are in. Talking trash right up until his unfortunate death, the partner turns to said generic baddie and quips “Whatever the plan is, apparently you’re not a part of it…bitch.” It would seem pausing and then calling somebody a bitch is the best way to dispense verbal justice in the “12 Rounds” universe.

Explosions!Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of “12 Rounds” is that it just doesn’t pack a whole lot of kills or beatdowns. Cena takes it to Jackson in the films crescendo, but his other beatdowns are on a bicyclist and aging FBI agent. Worse yet, Cena suffers a painful emotional beatdown at the hands of a guard dog who manages to steal his gun during a heated pursuit.

Notes from the Blood Bank look like this:
12 kills total, none by Cena
12 beatdowns, 5 courtesy of Cena
6 guilt-ridden beers downed by Cena in a bar, shortly before driving home
1 fire extinguisher to the testicles

I actually found Jackson to be the best part of the entire film. The guy stabs multiple people in the stomach, promises to buy his girlfriend a pony, takes time to enjoy an ice-cream cone while being hunted by the FBI and almost tricks Cena with a puzzle any fourth grader would have been able to solve within seconds. All things considered, it was a good day for him.

I’m not trying to say this film is completely devoid of any redeeming qualities. On the contrary, it has a few intense chases (Cena plowing through anything and everything in a fire truck) and even manages to pack in a few laughs. After making it through some of the worst action movies known to man, this felt like a walk in the park.

Overall, “12 Rounds” simply doesn’t offer what I’m looking for in a quality action movie. The kill/beatdown numbers are pathetic, Cena’s one-liners are relatively bland and the only truly exciting sequences of the film are marred by stilted dialogue and even worse acting.

lah3Goat’s Rating: I feel like “12 Rounds” at least warrants one Schwarzenegger, if not just for the dog stealing Cena’s gun and Jackson taking a fire extinguisher to the balls. But that alone doesn’t make up for number of crappy moments that make up the rest of the movie. Final verdict? One Arnie and three Brendan Frasers for a supremely weak viewing experience.


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