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12 Rounds (2009)

Director: Renny Harlin
Starring: John Cena, Aiden Gillen, Ashley Scott, Steve Smith
Rated PG-13  Running time: 108 minutes
Released by 20th Century Fox

It's loud! It's dumb! It's improbable! It's also one of the best action movies of the year, and most shockingly, it stars wrestling superstar John Cena. Cena plays New Orleans cop Danny Fisher, who foils a plot orchestrated by international arms dealer and all around d-bag Miles Jackson (Aiden Gillen; Mayor Carcetti from "The Wire"). As he is being apprehended, Jackson says, "I'll remember you." And he does. A year later, Cena's girlfriend (Ashley Scott) is kidnapped by Jackson, and Cena is forced to solved a series of twelve puzzles in order to save her. Twelve puzzles that cause spectacular car crashes, fiery explosions, tiki bar oblierations, and a fat guy to go SPLAT.

Yes, it takes one hell of a suspension of disbelief to appreciate, and the plot is a blatant ripoff of Die Hard With A Vengeance. But what makes 12 Rounds work is it's willingness to dispense with logic and be a pure action movie with the mentality of a monster truck rally. Director Renny (Nightmare on Elm Street 4, Cliffhanger, Prison, Die Hard 2) Harlin never lets up on the pace, which accomplishes two things: 1. it never allows the audience to get bored and start thinking too much, and 2. it doesn't allow much opportunity for John Cena to "act." Seriously, apart from a five minute sequence after Jackson is captured, virtually all of the film is one long action sequence. Cena is actually pretty good as the musclebound cop hero since he spends all of time punching people and yelling, and Ashley Scott does a good job looking pretty and scared as the kidnapped nurse. It's Aiden Gillen as Jackson that really stands out, though. Gillen does a terrific job playing the Hans Gruber-style super villain with a vague European accent. He manages to exude that oh-my-god-I-want-to-punch-him quality that works as the perfect counterpoint to Cena's earnest badass character.

Don't think. Just watch it. Preferably on the biggest television you can find.

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