DVD Movie Guide @ dvdmg.com
Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main


Renny Harlin
John Cena, Aidan Gillen, Ashley Scott, Steve Harris, Brian J. White, Gonzalo Menendez, Taylor Cole
Writing Credits:
Daniel Kunka

When New Orleans Police Detective Danny Fisher (John Cena) stops a brilliant thief from getting away with a multimillion-dollar heist, the thief's girlfriend is accidentally killed. After escaping from prison, the criminal mastermind enacts his revenge, taunting Danny with 12 rounds of near-impossible puzzles and tasks that he must somehow complete to save the life of the woman he loves.

Box Office:
$22 million.
Opening Weekend
$5.329 million on 2331 screens.
Domestic Gross
$12.232 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Original Theatrical Version: 108 min.
Unrated Edition: 110 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 6/30/2009

Disc One:
• Both Theatrical and Unrated Versions of the Film
• Audio Commentary with Director Renny Harlin
• Audio Commentary with Writer Daniel Kunka and Actor John Cena
• “Street Crossing: Film with Caution” Featurette
• “A Crash Course: John Cena Stunts” Featurette
• “Keeping Score: The Music of 12 Rounds” Featurette
• “Round and Round with Renny and John” Featurette
• 12 “Bonus Rounds” Featurettes
• Two Alternate Endings with Optional Commentaries
• Two “Viral Videos”
• Gag Reel
• Previews
Disc Two:
• Digital Copy


Panasonic 50" TH-50PZ77U 1080p Plasma Monitor; Sony STR-DG1200 7.1 Channel Receiver; Panasonic DMP-BD60K Blu-Ray Player using HDMI outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Kenwood 1050SW 150-watt Subwoofer.


[an error occurred while processing this directive]

12 Rounds [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 9, 2009)

Wrestling star John Cena attempts to follow the Rock to big-screen success with 2009’s 12 Rounds. Cena plays Danny Fisher, a New Orleans cop. When an FBI operation to snag arms dealer Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen) goes awry, Danny and his partner Hank Carver (Brian White) get involved.

Danny helps apprehend Jackson, but along the way, Jackson’s girlfriend Erica (Taylor Cole) gets killed in an accident. Miles ends up in prison – briefly, at least. He escapes and holds Danny – now a detective - responsible for Erica’s death.

Rather than flee to a free life, Miles decides to exact his revenge for Erica’s demise. He kidnaps Danny’s girlfriend Molly (Ashley Scott) and sends the cop on a series of

Back in 1990, director Renny Harlin helmed Die Hard 2. For the next flick in the series – 1995’s Die Hard with a Vengeance - original Die Hard director John McTiernan returned.

Did Harlin want to come back for another Die Hard in 1995? I don’t know, but 12 Rounds leaves one with the impression he really wanted to make Vengeance, as the two flicks offer a lot of similarities. In both, a nutbag sends the hero through a series of puzzles to “win”. Both baddies ostensibly select their subjects for revenge, and we even get black sidekicks for both protagonists. (Some other major similarities exist as well, but I won’t mention them as they fall into the “spoiler” category.) No, the two films aren’t identical, but they’re more than slightly similar, and Rounds also lifts liberally from other Die Hard entries.

While Vengeance has its flaws, it blows away the perfectly ordinary 12 Rounds. For one, the earlier flick offers a radically superior cast. Bruce Willis trumps Cena, Samuel L. Jackson tops White, and Jeremy Irons slams Gillen. Even though none of the Die Hard actors provide stellar performances, they still add spark to that flick and make it much more compelling in terms of acting.

On the other hand, we don’t get much from the performers here. White and Gillen essentially play one-dimensional clichés without much life, and Cena fails to demonstrate much star power. When he came to movies, I figured the Rock would just be a brawny lunkhead and that was it. However, he turned out to be a genuinely talented and charming actor.

Unlike the Rock, Cena hasn’t earned a prominent name among the non-wrestling fans; heck, before I read a little about him, I thought he was a mixed martial arts star, not a WWE guy. I don’t know his reputation among wrestling partisans, but certainly see none of the Rock’s cinematic star power here. Cena is the master of the blank stare; other than the occasional brief show of bland anger, Cena remains flatly stoic throughout the film.

And that doesn’t make him an interesting protagonist. Cena fails to display any signs of intelligence, charm or pretty much anything else that would make Danny endearing to us. Yeah, I guess we respect his tenacious nature, but Cena lacks the personality to add life to the film.

Not that I blame all of the flick’s flaws on its lead. Harlin was never a great director, but at his best, he created decent action movies. 12 Rounds never manages to provide exciting, dramatic material. Unlike Vengeance, the various “tests” are pretty dull. At least the Die Hard movie included some fun puzzles, but these remain focused on blam-blam and little more; we don’t find ourselves interested in Danny’s journey.

With its heavy orientation toward action, 12 Rounds still could’ve been fun – if Harlin threw out some exciting set pieces. Instead, all these sequences seem pretty generic and forgettable. Bombs explode, vehicles crash, blah blah blah. Like the puzzles, nothing clever materializes via the action scenes; they blend into the wallpaper and don’t give us much bang for the buck.

Loud, bombastic and utterly devoid of excitement or drama, 12 Rounds leaves me cold. I doubt I’ll remember I ever saw it a month from now, as the film is too generic to leave an impression. Nothing here makes Rounds a truly bad movie, but nothing makes it any good, either.

The Blu-ray Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B+/ Bonus B+

12 Rounds appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The film provides an attractive visual experience.

Sharpness proved excellent. At all times, the film displayed solid clarity and accuracy. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmer, and edge enhancement seemed to be absent. Source flaws also failed to be a concern. The film featured natural levels of grain and didn’t appear to have been subjected to excessive noise reduction.

Like most modern films of this sort, the movie went with a subdued, stylistic palette. A moderately bluish tint appeared and the film displayed that form of altered colors, though it remained reasonably natural. The tones reflected the nature of the material and looked fine. Blacks were dark and dense, while shadows seemed decent. Across the board, this was an excellent transfer.

I also felt pleased with the DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack of 12 Rounds. The film’s action pieces offered the most dynamic elements. Sequences with explosions, gunfire and car chases opened up the soundfield well and gave us a nice sense of involvement. Music showed good stereo imaging, and the flick used the surrounds well. The back speakers worked as active participants and placed us in the action.

Audio quality proved pleasing. Speech was natural and distinctive, without edginess or other concerns. Music appeared lively and dynamic, and effects fared well. Those elements sounded full and rich at all times. Low-end response was quite good and brought out a good sense of depth. This turned into a positive package.

When we head to the extras, we find two separate audio commentaries. For the first, director Renny Harlin provides a running, screen-specific chat. He looks at how he came onto the project, sets and filming in New Orleans, visuals, editing and shooting styles, cast and performances, changes for the unrated cut, stunts and actions, some effects, and a few other production areas.

Harlin is the veteran of commentaries going back at least 10 years, so he knows how the format works. This means he offers a good level of information about the movie’s creation and keeps things moving – most of the time, at least. Occasional spots of dead air interfere, and I think Harlin too often just thanks everyone on the production. Nonetheless, we learn a lot about the flick, so the commentary deserves a listen.

The second commentary features writer Daniel Kunka and actor John Cena. Both sit together for a running, screen-specific look at cast and performances, story, characters and script, stunts and action, shooting in New Orleans, and a smattering of other production areas.

While the Harlin commentary gives us a greater level of filmmaking information, the Kunka/Cena chat is more fun. They keep things light and enjoyable. Kunka dominates, as he provides some nice thoughts about his script/story, but Cena also throws out some good insights related to his side of things. Don't expect a super-informative discussion, but anticipate an enjoyable piece.

The Blu-ray includes both the PG-13 rated theatrical cut of 12 Rounds as well as an unrated edition of the film. The theatrical version runs one hour, 47 minutes and 56, while the unrated one goes for one hour, 49 minutes, 39 seconds. I only watched the unrated version, so I can’t comment on the changes that come with the extra 103 seconds. I gather that the longer cut includes a little more violence, and it definitely features additional profanity.

Anyway, I wanted to mention the presence of the two versions. Note that both audio commentaries only accompany the extended cut.

With that we head to a bunch of featurettes. Street Crossing: Film with Caution goes for 16 minutes, 27 seconds and includes notes from Harlin, Cena, producers Josh McLaughlin and Michael Lake, stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi, stuntmen Wally Crowder, Buddy Joe Hooker and Dale “Chick” Bernard, and actors Luukas Harlin and Gonzalo Menendez. “Crossing” details the shooting of a stunt that involves a streetcar. We get a good mix of comments and footage from the set in this informative little piece.

For the nine-minute and 51-second A Crash Course: John Cena Stunts, we hear from Crowder, Cena, Harlin, Ritzi, Lake, Menendez, fire truck stunt driver Mike Ryan, and actor Steve Harris. We learn a bit about Cena’s stunt work in the film. We find a few good behind the scenes shots and some decent notes, but the show largely exists to praise the movie’s star. That makes it erratic and only partially satisfying.

Keeping Score: The Music of 12 Rounds goes for three minutes, 16 seconds and features Harlin, conductor Gordon Goodwin, composer Trevor Rabin, and musicians Steven Erdody and Andrew Duckles. We learn a little about the movie’s score – very little, really. The show is so short and superficial that it doesn’t do more than praise those involved.

More from the director and actor comes up during the four-minute and five-second Round and Round with Renny and John. They discuss a few movie-related issues, but mostly they joke around in this promotional bit. It’s fluff, but it’s enjoyable, especially when we see Cena’s impersonation of Harlin.

12 Bonus Rounds featurettes run a total of 20 minutes, 12 seconds. Across these we hear from Harlin, Cena, McLaughlin, Kunka, Menendez, Ritzi, Lake, firearms coach Officer Joel Tallant, cinematographer David Boyd, stunt double Tracy Dashnow, and actors Aiden Gillen, Taylor Cole and Ashley Scott. Each of the 12 “Bonus Rounds” offers a short look at a mix of movie-making topics like script, stunts, and cars. Despite their brevity, these clips provide some decent information and are consistently enjoyable.

Two Alternate Endings come next. These include “You Just Won the Lotto” (0:59) and “We Just Got Engaged” (0:59). Both just offer minor changes to lines Danny utters in the coda; they don’t alter anything remotely significant.

We can screen these with or without optional commentaries from Harlin and from Cena/Kunka. Harlin provides a few inconsequential basics about the clips, while Cena/Kunka joke. You won’t really learn anything, but the scenes are so short that you won’t mind.

Next we get two Viral Videos. Here we find “Hands” (2:45) and “Helicopter” (0:55). These offer some wacky clips that offer fake shots from the set. They’re moderately amusing.

With the mildly clever title of “Never-Before-Cena” footage, a Gag Reel runs four minutes, 50 seconds. This shows the usual goofs and giggles, but it comes with an unusual twist: various cast and crewmembers comment on the material. That makes it a little different from the standard stuff.

A few ads open Disc One. We get clips for The Marine II, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and Street Fighter: The Legend of Chun-Li. No trailer for 12 Rounds appears here.

Finally, a second disc provides a Digital Copy of the film. This allows you to easily transfer the flick to your computer or portable viewing device. It doesn’t do anything for me, but your mileage may vary, as they say.

If you want to see a bland, lackluster remake of Die Hard with a Vengeance, then 12 Rounds will work for you. The movie never becomes even remotely interesting, as everything involved conspires to make it a dull dud. The Blu-ray offers excellent visuals, very good audio and a pretty nice collection of extras. Stay with the Die Hard movies and avoid this generic mediocrity.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.4117 Stars Number of Votes: 51
16 3:
View Averages for all rated titles.

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main