When I first walked into the theater with my family, the first thing on my mind was what I guess would have been on the mind of every Cena film bringing in his family : Pleassssee don't let this suck! Fortunately, this was the first time we were seeing a non-The Rock, WWE movie at the at the theater. First off, if you had seen Cena's last flick, The Marine in the theaters when it was released a couple of years back (sympathies,my friend), then here's the bottom line, this movie is light years away from the low-quality stuff WWE Studios usually produce.
While The Marine was a "made-for-the-fans" movie, destined to disappoint with one critic aptly describing the movie as "so dumb it might cause actual brain damage", 12 Rounds is easily the best WWE Studios-produced film yet, but also the one that's actually watchable (The Marine was pure torture).
The plot begins with cop Danny Fisher (Cena) , a cop in post-Katrina New Orleans, leaving his girlfriend Molly (and his dog) for regular night patrol just as an FBI operation to apprehend Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen) goes awry. Needless to say, Miles escapes the numerous surveillance camera and agents and makes his getaway with his girlfriend in a car (with priceless diamonds) until Cena's patrol spots the car and stops it. A gun-fight ensues and a lot of running and bullets later, Fisher finally apprehends Miles. Miles's girlfriend,however, is struck down by a car and killed when she tries to make a run for it. A year later, Miles is back for revenge and kidnaps Molly and arranges "12 rounds of wits and strength " for Cena to get his girl back. If he doesn't do 'em all right, she dies.
Now that the "best WWE film ever produced" is over, it's time for the real low-down. There are scenes that could have been better and plot inconsistencies in the film that would be a delight for a WWE hater. For instance, when Miles escapes on car (in the initial part), Cena gives chase on foot ! Fat chance of him outrunning a speedy car ! Of course, we get to see him barging in through houses and seedy alleys of inner city New Orleans, but there should have been the proper camera positioning to show he was taking a shortcut.
Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2) brings his immense talent here, doing a good job getting Cena to be less of an android. There are definitely more emotions on his face, and yeah he actually smiles in 12 Rounds . However, most of the time the only expression on his face is a frown or that of exasperation. There are a few cliches too, but the movie delivers heavily on one aspect : Entertainment. The action is engrossing, generally intense and entertaining. I wish I didn't keep repeating that, but I just can't help it, considering how people would think 12 Rounds offers action scenes akin to the quality of The Marine (which is to say, non-existent). There is one elevator scene where Cena and an obese hotel employee are trapped in an elevator with a one-minue bomb ! That's was just too adrenaline-pumping for words.
Verdict : Overall, 12 Rounds proves that good direction from an experienced director and properly executed action scenes provide good entertainment value, albeit several missed opportunities.
Score : 7.5/10
Note : The official website of 12 Rounds now redirects to it's WWE.com page. It's still a plethora of content,pics,videos etc, so don't give it a miss.