12 Rounds


Renny Harlin has an unjustly terrible reputation, but with the right material (Deep Blue Sea, Mindhunters), he’s very good at delivering stylish, knowingly ludicrous entertainment—that is, if he goes for hard R material, like the lurid deaths that fuel his best films. 12 Rounds is a wan PG-13 vehicle. WWE stalwart John Cena is pleasingly stolid as New Orleans cop Danny Fisher, facing off against crazed Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen, The Wire‘s Tommy Carcetti). Jackson—an international criminal with a broad résumé that covers everything from planting dirty bombs to shooting down international flights—is mad that a chase with Fisher inadvertently resulted in his girlfriend’s death, so he kidnaps Fisher’s girlfriend (Ashley Scott) and sends Fisher around the city to complete 12 games to win her back. Mayhem ensues, but at a flattened roar: This is the kind of amiable time-killer that belongs on a basic-cable weekend afternoon. (Only a brief death-by-elevator sequence gets Harlin’s juices going.) The New Orleans–location shooting lends a little atmosphere, but not as much as in Dejá Vu; the main image that sticks with you is Cena’s Nike firmly depressing the gas pedal on whatever vehicle he’s commandeered now.

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