12 Rounds 

2009

Fox Atomic/WWE Films' "12 Rounds" barely made a blip in theaters this spring. Perhaps it should've been released about 15 or 20 years ago, when similar high-concept actioners like "Speed" and "Die Hard" ruled the roost, rather than today's tech-heavy offerings.

Former wrestler John Cena stars as Danny Fisher, an honest cop who thwarts international terrorist Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen) in an arrest that accidentally kills the bad guy's girlfriend. A year later, Fisher's been promoted to detective, while Jackson's escaped from the clinker.

To make Fisher feel the pain he feels, Jackson kidnaps his girlfriend (Ashley Scott) and holds her hostage. If Fisher can complete a series of challenges within a strict set of rules, then Jackson will let her go. If not, he'll kill her.

These games "? the "Rounds" of the title "? are mostly courier-like errands, but with elements that allow director Renny Harlin to relive his "Die Hard 2" past with explosions aplenty.

This is not the trash you may have been led to believe. While imperfect, "12 Rounds" makes for solid, mindless entertainment, especially among those who miss the tough-guy genre of yesteryear. Cena certainly fits the Stallone/Schwarzenegger mold well; although his emoting is fiercely limited, it has a great screen presence. (And if you haven't seen his movie debut in "The Marine," rent that big ball of fun!)

The unrated version goes on for too long "?  perhaps "6 Rounds" would've sufficed "? but at least it keeps up its breathless pace.

"?Rod Lott

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