12 Rounds Review: Lacking That Knockout Punch

May 29, 2009 by  
Filed under - Home, Film Reviews

12rounds300x21012 Rounds: On General Release Wednesday 27th May, 2009

Far be it from me to attempt to paraphrase the worldly wonderings of that most famously beardy of bards, but I’m fairly sure Shakespeare once mumbled: “All the world’s a stage, and we’re all playing parts.”

Full of timelessly romantic prose and wistful philosophising he may have been, but you can’t help but feel he didn’t quite make that little ditty clear enough.

Because after upteen years as the spandexed, Fabio-ripped Gods of the wrestling stages, a worryingly increasing number of WWE stars are convincing themselves they can play far more than one part on this crazy global stage.

They’re becoming actors.


12 Rounds sees the on-screen acting debut of WWE acto… I mean ‘Wrestler’ John Cena, who plays the generically named Danny Fisher. Generic Fisher (surely a better name in itself?) is a cop who foils the nefariously generic plans of generic villain Miles from stealing gabillions of dollars. In doing so, Miles’ pretty generic girlfriend is accidentally killed.

Fast forward a year, and Miles has escaped from prison. His hugely original and astonishingly surprising revenge plan? To capture GenFish’s girlfriend and put him through a series of 12 diabolical rounds, consisting of nigh-impossible tasks, to win her back.

Oh, did I say original and surprising?
I meant generic.

The brainchild/fart of the director of Die Hard 2 and the producer of Speed, it’s not shocking to appreciate this is the action-blockbuster by the old-school books. The kind of old-school where the white restrained cop has a more chilled, cool-cat black cop partner. Or the kind where each and every challenge is just a rehash from an action-blockbuster from the 80s/90s.

While I could moan about how everything is fairly second rate (Cena’s a ‘roided up, second-rate Mark Wahlberg, his girlfriend a squint-and-you’ll-see-her second rate Elisha Cuthbert), there’s nothing horrifically wrong with it.

The action scenes, while predictable, are directed with suitably bum-clenching ‘against the clock’ tension, and Cena – while unlikely to be picking up Oscars anytime soon – is competent if not entirely devoid of charisma.

While I walked in desperately willing the poster-blurb to have been a typo (I expected a rather ingeniously geeky approach to the action genre with Superbad’s Michael Cera headlining), I walked out lacking irritation, but with noticeable apathy.

If a WWE Studio movie can go 12 Rounds with critics and walk away unscathed, I suppose it’s a step in the right direction.

Matt Risley

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