12 Rounds (12A)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner28/05/2009

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 107 mins

Hugely entertaining, fast paced and enjoyably old fashioned action thriller that delivers more explosions, chase scenes and action sequences in one film than in the rest of the summer blockbusters put together.

What's it all about?
Directed by Renny Harlin, 12 Rounds stars WWE wrestler John Cena as New Orleans detective Danny Fisher, whose apprehension of international terrorist and criminal mastermind Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen) ends in tragedy when Jackson's girlfriend is accidentally killed. A year later, revenge-obsessed Jackson escapes from prison and kidnaps Fisher's girlfriend Molly (Ashley Scott), forcing him to undertake 12 seemingly impossible tasks if he ever wants to see her alive again.

The Good
Cena makes a likeable, if solidly wooden lead (he barely even reacts when his house blows up), while Gillen is clearly having a good time as the scruffy criminal genius, without going wildly over the top. There's also strong support from the increasingly ubiquitous Brian White as Fisher's friend and partner, though you have to feel sorry for Scott, who spends most of the movie with gaffer tape over her mouth.

Renny Harlin's career (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) proves that he knows his way around an action sequence and he's on top form here, whether it's orchestrating some terrific explosions, directing some thrilling chase scenes or just generally smashing shit up. Highlights include a race to the ocean with a ticking time bomb (in a stolen fire truck), a runaway cable car and an exciting helicopter-based climax.

The Great
Harlin also maintains a terrific pace throughout, so that you barely have time to draw breath before you're on to the next set-piece. Similarly, the script is frequently silly (Jackson's plan is insanely, laughably complex), but still finds time to flesh out the supporting characters.

Ultimately, 12 Rounds is so charmingly old-fashioned that it could be a lost action film from the early 90s. Indeed, you can't help wondering what it might have been like with Bruce Willis in the lead.

Worth seeing?
12 Rounds is a trashy but thoroughly enjoyable action flick that delivers plenty of bang for your buck. Recommended.

Film Trailer

12 Rounds (12A)
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Content updated: 21/07/2018 08:46

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