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12 Rounds

12 Rounds


Today’s flick is 12 Rounds, an action feature starring professional wresting icon John Cena.

12 Rounds was written by one Daniel Kunka, who has no other listed credits on IMDb to his name. The film was directed by Renny Harlin, and action-oriented filmmaker who has been behind films like Driven, Deep Blue Sea, Mindhunters, Cliffhanger, Die Hard 2, Cutthroat Island, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane, and The Legend of Hercules.

The cinematographer for 12 Rounds was David Boyd, who has spent most of his career directing and shooting acclaimed television shows like The Walking Dead, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Deadwood, Firefly, and Friday Night Lights.

The editor for the movie was Brian Berdan, who also cut the action movies Crank, Grosse Pointe Blank, Natural Born Killers, and the supernatural thriller The Mothman Prophecies.

The producers on 12 Rounds were Becki Cross Trujillo (Daredevil, UHF), Mark Gordon (Speed, Speed 2, A Simple Plan), and Michael Lake (Fortress).

The musical score for 12 Rounds was composed by Trevor Rabin, who has provided music for movies like Con Air, The 6th Day, Jack Frost, Enemy of the State, Deep Blue Sea, Armageddon, Kangaroo Jack, Torque, and National Treasure.

The makeup effects for 12 Rounds were provided by a team made up of Nikki Brown (Looper, Jonah Hex), Samantha M. Capps (Pitch Perfect), Betty Hamnac (The Mist, Ray), Stacy Kelly (Dracula 2000), Donita Miller (American Horror Story), Paige Reeves (Jurassic World, Trumbo), and Donna Spahn (Hard Target, Dracula 2000).

The special effects unit for the movie included Conrad V. Brink Jr. (Oz, The Sopranos), Jeff Brink (Winter’s Tale, Cop Out, Men In Black II), Charlie Simunik (Men In Black 3, I Am Legend), Durk Tyndall (Transporter 2, Dante’s Peak), Mitch Toles (Pirates of the Caribbean), Neil Stockstill (The Mist), Edward Joubert (Jonah Hex, Killer Joe), Shane Gross (W., Men In Black 3), Joe Catalanotto (Green Lantern), and Phillip Beck (Bored To Death, 30 Rock).

The visual effects work for 12 Rounds was done by the companies Pixel Magic (21 Jump Street, After Earth, Torque, Daredevil) and Frantic Films (Across The Universe, The Core, Swordfish, The Italian Job).

The cast of 12 Rounds includes John Cena (The Marine), Aiden Gillen (Game of Thrones, The Dark Knight Rises, The Wire), Ashley Scott (Walking Tall), Steve Harris (Minority Report), and Brian White (The Cabin In The Woods).

The plot of 12 Rounds is summarized on IMDb as follows:

Detective Danny Fisher discovers his girlfriend has been kidnapped by a ex-con tied to Fisher’s past, and he’ll have to successfully complete 12 challenges in order to secure her safe release.

12rounds2John Cena performed all of his own driving stunts for the movie, which he learned how to do while preparing for his role by shadowing officers with the New Orleans Police Department.

One of the things that sticks out most about 12 rounds is the colorful setting of New Orleans, LA. In fact, the movie almost feels like a tourism advertisement with intermittent explosions. Interestingly, Renny Harlin actually altered the original screenplay in order to move the setting to New Orleans from the original backdrop of Chicago.

The production budget for 12 Rounds was $22 million, on which it grossed just over $18 million in its theatrical release, meaning that it lost a good deal of money. It didn’t fare much better with reviews:12 Rounds currently holds a 5.6 user rating on IMDb, alongside Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores of 29% from critics and 45% from audiences. In spite of all of this, 12 Rounds has spawned two sequels: 2013’s 12 Rounds 2: Reloaded and 2015’s 12 Rounds 3: Lockdown.

First off, John Cena is surprisingly far from the worst actor out there: he’s pretty decent in his role here if you ask me, given he mostly just needs to be a tough guy cop. However, I absolutely love Aiden Gillen, who was then just popping onto people’s radars for his memorable stint on the back half of The Wire. Now, he’s mostly known for Game of Thrones and his brief appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, which both have him in antagonist or criminal roles. It might be silly to say, but I think 12 Rounds solidified him as a legitimate option for a villain, and he is definitely the stand-out performance in the movie.


Director Renny Harlin has a bit of a mixed track record when it comes to his filmography. Personally, I enjoy “guilty pleasure” movies like Deep Blue Sea, Mindhunters, and Cliffhanger, but he’s also capable of some real clunkers, like Cutthroat Island and the unbearable Andrew Dice Clay vehicle, The Adventures of Ford Fairlane. Luckily, 12 Rounds very much falls into the first category: a fun, absent-minded action movie that makes up for a lack of sophistication with a plethora of explosions.

In general, I think 12 Rounds is an entertaining b-rate action movie: it certainly isn’t a Hollywood spectacular, which I found made it a little more charming. The preposterous scenario that drives the plot keeps the pace moving steadily, and allows for the instigation of some top-flight action movie shenanigans. If you ask me, it is totally worth checking out for bad movie fans, and for action movie fans in general.

For more thoughts on 12 Rounds, I highly recommend checking out The Flop House Podcast, whose coverage of the movie is one of their best episodes to date.