12 Rounds (2009)

(In theaters, April 2009) There’s nothing deep or subtle about this pure B-grade action-fest, and that’s quite all right: For all of its faults, plot-holes, impassive protagonist or by-the-numbers direction, 12 Rounds understands that it’s there to deliver some car-crushing, house-blowing, fist-fighting action. And that it does, thanks to a simple high concept that requires our square-jawed oxen protagonist (Wrestler John Cena, in a decent follow-up to his role in The Marine) to run all around New Orleans to stop a master criminal/terrorist from killing his girlfriend. It the kind of movie where a trip to Point A to B turns into a demolition derby with a firetruck. Renny Harlin’s direction is just enough above hum-drum to make us care, but this is the kind of film where the audience has to bring its half of the fun. It thankfully doesn’t take itself too seriously, and if the result may not linger too long in memory, it’s about as good as middle-grade action cinema can aspire to be. Not bad, all things considered.

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