Directed By Renny Harlin
Starring John Cena, Ashley Scott
The idea that the WWF or the WWE is producing movies is extremely frightening to me. I can enjoy a bad movie, if it’s bad enough, but most often these kinds of films are all kinds of bad in the wrong way. Cracking open this blu-ray wasn’t exactly a pleasure to say it lightly.
Officer Danny Fisher is a beat cop in New Orleans with a girlfriend at home. On an average night at work he and his partner are roped into helping the FBI chase down a terrorist running amok in the city. Of course they find the guy and Fisher ends up chasing him on foot. Fisher holds the terrorist and his girlfriend at bay for a few seconds before the girlfriend bolts out in front of a speeding truck. The terrorist gets taken into custody saying simply that he’ll remember Fisher. A brief time later Fisher has become a police detective and one day on his way to work he receives a random phone call from the terrorist who has escaped prison. The terrorist informs Fisher that they will play a game that consists of 12 rounds. At the end of the 12 rounds if Fisher wins and survives he will save his girlfriend. The game sees Fisher traveling all over town working out various puzzles to either win or to save lives or both.
Does this story sound at all familiar to you? It should because this is Die Hard 3 told all over again minus the charisma of Bruce Willis to carry the film along. When I say it’s Die Hard 3 remade I mean all the way down to the major twist of that film. I think the producers of that film might actually have a case against the WWE if they felt like suing. It’s probably not worth it considering how much box office this film brought in when it hit theaters not so long ago.
This film is so unoriginal that it’s insulting and on top of that John Cena has absolutely no charisma on screen and he portrays no sense of drama or suspense. Ashley Scott is slumming here and she has nothing to do. A lot of that is also due to Renny Harlin who once directed some great action films. Ten years ago he brought us Long Kiss Goodnight and Cliffhanger, both respectable action films but since then he’s not done much of any substance. Like the script here he pulls style choices from Die Hard 3 and a few other action films rather than do anything original. The film doesn’t look bad but it doesn’t have much flare either. The best thing that can be said about the film is that the pace is very fast. It’s over before you’ve pulled all of your hair out but you will need a cut to repair the damage you did while the film was still on.
There are plenty of explosions and guns are shot there are stereotypical action characters including the super jerk FBI agent and the more sympathetic agent and the partner who does the investigating that Fisher can’t do while he’s on the run. So for some this might be a fair enough predictable 90 minute distraction. For the discerning action fan or the fan of good movies in general this one’s a pass.
This film doesn’t have the budget that other action films get but overall the video quality looks pretty good. It’s not overly mind blowing but dark scenes manage to hold on to detail and colors are fairly vivid. Being on blu-ray this film looks better than it probably should.
The DTS HD MA 5.1 audio here is quite spectacular in the heavy action scenes. The entire surround stage gets use and the sub woofer gets tons of use. The audio here supports the fast pace of the film by blasting nonstop from the first action scene to the closing credits. Dialogue, score, and sound FX are mixed clean throughout the film. The quiet moments, the few that there are, do sound a bit flat compared to the rest of the film because there’s no subtle ambient sound work done here. Overall this is a very substantial audio presentation befitting an action film.
The Packaging and Bonus Features
The two disc set is presented in a standard amaray case with the artwork resembling the actual film in that it feels quite generic. The case though is cheaper than many in that it isn’t solid on the back. It has holes in it covered only by the sleeve.
The second disc is simply a digital copy. On the main disc there are two versions of the film: the theatrical cut and the unrated cut. The unrated cut is only 2 minutes longer and it features a bit of language, lame. There are two commentaries: one from Harlin and a second from Cena and scenarist Daniel Kunka. The commentaries are solid and they do offer some behind the scenes information about the film. They aren’t spectacular but they are on par with the film itself. There’s a bevy of short featurettes that cover the making of specific stunts and action scenes, the music of the film, and there’s a brief sit down with the director and star. These featurettes remind me of the first look videos that HBO did for films in the old days. There’s not a lot of depth to the process here. There’s also a gag reel and two alternate endings that are barely alternate at all.
12 Rounds isn’t the disaster that I expected it to be probably because Renny Harlin directed it. As I said he hasn’t done a great film in some time but his experience as a director probably helped him keep the project moving forward. At the same time the film completely plagiarizes some great action films of the 80’s and 90’s.
Overall (Not an Average) 5/10
The Movie 4/10
The Video 8/10
The Audio 9/10
The Packaging and Bonus Features 5/10
Overall (Not an average) 6/10