The latest WWE hardman to swap one type of play acting for another, John Cena began his movie career with the critically panned 'The Marine' and now finds himself in higher profile company. Here he's partnered with 'Die Hard 2' and 'Cliffhanger' director Renny Harlin and 'Lethal Weapon' and 'The Last Boy Scout' writer Shane Black for a story involving bombs, burning buildings and brinkmanship. Sadly, '12 Rounds' doesn't go the distance.
Cena plays Danny Fisher, a New Orleans beat cop who through a mix of dogged persistence and right place right time luck manages to apprehend Irish arms dealer Miles Jackson ('The Wire's Aidan Gillen). Miles gets life, Danny gets promoted to detective and settles down to happy ever after - until Jackson escapes from jail and heads back to New Orleans.
For Cena's younger fans '12 Rounds' will provide plenty of reasons to shovel popcorn for an hour-and-a-half. Those with longer memories when it comes to action movies will find it a watchable but unremarkable bit of mayhem. Much of the problem comes from the fact that the villain-on-a-phone thing has been done very well in 'Die Hard 3', while Harlin's own 'Die Hard 2' is the stronger film - even 19 years later. Cena is likeable, and does enough to suggest he'll have a long career at this kind of thing; Gillen deserved a better character.
Had this been a straightforward shoot-em-up it would've had more to offer than the riddle-driven race against time that's onscreen. You can see if you agree some Sunday night on the telly.