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  1. #1
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    Default Blu-ray Review: 12 ROUNDS: EXTREME CUT (20th Century Fox/WWE)



    Professional Review by Michael LoManaco 07/02/09; Region 1 (U.S.) Release Tested


    Studio Name: 20th Century Fox/WWE Studios
    MPAA Rating: PG-13
    Disc Information: 1080p 2.35:1
    Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
    Tested Audio Track: English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
    Director: Renny Harlin
    Starring Cast: John Cena, Ashley Scott, Steve Harris


    LoMANACO'S PLOT ANALYSIS:

    I don't know what the fascination is with "WWE Superstar" John Cena, but I surely don't get it. Yes, I was raised on Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hulk Hogan and George the Animal Steele, but I really don't understand modern day wrestling -- at least since Vince McMahon turned this into "WWE" and created characters like that little leprechaun that runs about and John Cena. I mean, a guy who gets in the ring with denim shorts and salutes, yet looks like the average schmuck I unfortunately see getting out of their pickup trucks to stroll into our local White Trash Mart -- I mean Wal Mart? That's who is reppin' the WWE as of late? I have a statement for you, Mr. McMahon...forget your tussles with Donnie Trump and bring back Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, okay?

    Billed as a high-octane thriller from the likes of Renny Harlin -- who apparently didn't collect enough royalty checks off Exorcist: The Beginning, Deep Blue Sea or Die Hard 2 because he was too busy drinking it up with skanky dime store hookers in Vegas -- 12 Rounds was merely a vehicle to further Cena's "career" in acting. Did you ever see The Marine? That should have been all she wrote for this guy's circuit in Hollywood. Unfortunately, Harlin seemed to be up to his tricks once again and decided to team up with "WWE Studios" in order to bring Cena's name to the billboards once more. To say he's horrendously wooden in this would be a dire understatement.

    I recall seeing the trailer for 12 Rounds on the Taken Blu-ray by Fox, and I must admit it intrigued me -- even if the hints at the dialogue were ridiculously cheesy: "I will hunt you down...and I will kill you!" exclaims Cena in the trailer, speaking to the terrorist that took his wife hostage...is he trying to be like Neeson in Taken with that remark? Is this actually a Taken spin-off, based on this little clip? Well, the film itself doesn't even feel like a Renny Harlin picture -- and I have been exposed to all of them. While I enjoyed Die Hard 2, Deep Blue Sea and even Exorcist: The Beginning, it has been established within certain circles that he's a "hack" director; be that as it may, the guy seems to be able to craft an action film when he wants to. The problem with 12 Rounds is it ends up feeling like a borrowed mess of Speed, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Passenger 57 and a gaggle of other terrorist-leaves-clues-for-the-cops thrillers that have come and gone over the years. Worse, Harlin's style choice of making the camera jump and shake all over the place in every frame becomes tiring after five minutes. We'll get to that.

    This really did feel like a direct-to-video release, only it was missing Steven Seagal. It just had a cheap, amateurish feel to it -- regardless of the fact that a fairly known director was behind it along with some underrated character actors such as Steve Harris (Against the Wall, The Rock) in it. Cena tries to play tough guy in his role as a New Orleans cop but it's just not believable by any stretch of the imagination -- he belongs back in the ring in his denim shorts. In a confusing mess of an opening sequence -- made all the worse by Harlin's unsteady camera action -- Steve Harris plays an FBI agent hot on the tail of a wanted madman. Cena, meanwhile, is a New Orleans cop working his beat with his partner one night when they overhear the FBI transmissions of the pursuit of the criminal. The bad guy in this is so pathetically not frightening compared to, say, Dennis Hopper in Speed that he almost becomes a mockery of himself. Eluding the FBI, of course, the bad guy and his way sexy girl think they're out of the woods as they cruise the back streets of New Orleans, but Cena ends up arriving and mistakenly causing the death of the bad guy's **** buddy. This wasn't good for Cena's Danny Fischer character.

    A year later, Cena receives a call from the demented madman, who apparently has escaped from prison and has set up a series of traps and "games" for Cena to play, all so he can save his sexy girlfriend's (Ashley Scott) life who has been abducted by the villain. Now, it's so clear that Harlin was going for a direct copy of Die Hard with a Vengeance here, what with the traps set all over a city that the hero must overcome one by one, but it just doesn't work as well as John McTiernan's film -- namely because Jeremy Irons was so much better as the terrorizing villain, but mostly because it's been done before. The reason behind Cena's girlfriend's abduction? As always, it's about revenge -- the villain blames Cena for his girl's death a year ago, and now he is going to go "12 rounds" with Cena as payback, making him run wild all over New Orleans in order to save his chick's life.

    So, you wondered where the title of the film came from, did ye? The "12 rounds" refers to the stages in which the bad guy puts Cena through; each "round" will lead to the final round, where Cena should be able to get his girl back if he accomplished all the previous obstacles -- just like Die Hard with a Vengeance. And so Cena, Harris and the FBI run amok in Louisiana, following the cell phone-ordered tasks set by this madman who has Scott tied up in restraints. As the villain evades phone traces and hops from location to location (a la Speed and In the Line of Fire) Cena enters a series of obstacles to overcome. These range from trying to save a massively obese security guard from falling down an elevator shaft to stopping a cable car when our bad guy causes the brakes to fail -- right out of Spider-Man 2! The cable car action setpiece takes up a good amount of the second half of the running time, and just gets tiring even though it's the centerpiece of the film.

    The dialogue in the film is a massive problem -- it's just horrible. Actors yell their lines back and forth as if this was their first job, and it simply heightens that amateur feel I described earlier. Even Steve Harris -- who I actually respect as an underrated actor -- delivered lines so cheesy and made gestures so embarrassing, I couldn't stand to watch sometimes. The final act -- as it approaches "the 12th round" -- goes from a face to face confrontation between the bad guy and Cena aboard a public bus while Scott has dynamite strapped to her chest (as in Speed) to a implausible helicopter scene in which Cena and our terrorist kidnapper duke it out while Scott manages to fly the chopper without hydraulic power. If you think I'm kidding about this, it gets worse -- Harlin would have us believe that the two of them survived a drop into a rooftop swimming pool from the doomed chopper hundreds of feet above as it explodes from the madman's dynamite. Okay.

    As I said, it was obvious this was merely a "launching vehicle" by WWE for Cena's acting career advancement. It had an amateurish feel and Harlin's use of the unsteadycam was a nightmare. I've seen worse films, but this wasn't that great. It definitely had a direct-to-video sense about it.

    12 ROUNDS REVIEW CONTINUED BELOW...

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    12 ROUNDS REVIEW CONTINUED...

    VIDEO QUALITY:

    The audio fared a bit better than the video, but the video was no slouch really; some sequences exhibited noise and digital compression artifacting in the 2.35:1 image -- it reminded me of Fox's Taken which I didn't really care for in the video department, but 12 Rounds looked a bit cleaner. As usual, outdoor daytime sequences exhibited great clarity and dimension, while some darker scenes collapsed back into foggy, noisy patches -- it's really none of my business, but I think Fox needs to move away from their MPEG-4 encode schemes and try something else as I feel it's been hindering visual excitement and exhibition of what this format can really do.

    AUDIO QUALITY:

    The track was everything you would expect a film of this caliber -- or is that genre? -- to be. There's a wallop of LFE on the disc, and surrounds are utilized in a semi-aggressive fashion, sending bullets and speeding cars rushing off into the back channels. If there was anything to nit-pick about, it would have to be the slightly "covered" delivery of the audio -- what I mean by that is most of the mix sounded as if someone had inadverdaly engaged a dynamic range compression circuit, but my equipment definitely didn't. I double checked. Dialogue, score and Foley could have been a tad bit crisper and "airy" but as I said, this is really nit-picking. This was, overall, an aggressive track that unfortunately is let down by the title it accompanies.

    LoMANACO'S SUMMARY:

    Haven't I pretty much covered it? It's a decent rental, but there is an amateurish feel to the acting, dialogue and pacing of 12 Rounds. It's not the worst film of the past few months, but it's not memorable -- not to mention it simply rips off way too many other action films that have succeeded before it. I catalogued those in the review. The biggest and most obvious one has to be Die Hard with a Vengeance.

    LoMANACO'S RECOMMENDATIONS:

    As I said, it's a decent night's rental, but I can't see putting it up on your collection shelf unless your idiotic 14-year-old daughter thinks John Cena is "hot" and screams every time he's introduced into a ring on Monday Night Raw.

    Thank you for reading, and please begin discussing 12 Rounds at your leisure! :)

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    I cant wait to see this movie for the raw action. You cant expect oscars from this guy ,what you can though is good old campy entertainment

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    Watched it a couple days ago. I enjoyed it. Lost of nonsense action, and the cars smashing was great!
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    Blind bought this today and am watching it tonight. Looks like a fun, action packed popcorn ride of a movie.

    Just as a tip Mike, (don't take this the wrong way) try to cut a lot of the fat out of your reviews and focus only on the film and tech aspects, there's just too much to read, and try to avoid negative, immature comments.
    Last edited by Ron-P; 07-03-2009 at 10:06 PM.
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    Thanks Mike. I enjoy your reviews. I'll put this on my rent list.

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    Quote Originally Posted by slowpolky View Post
    I cant wait to see this movie for the raw action. You cant expect oscars from this guy ,what you can though is good old campy entertainment
    My comment about it not being Oscar-worthy entertainment was sarcastic, incase you didn't get the gist...OF COURSE WE CAN'T EXPECT Oscar worthy work from Cena...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ricardo View Post
    Watched it a couple days ago. I enjoyed it. Lost of nonsense action, and the cars smashing was great!
    If you enjoyed it Ricardo, all the power to ya -- I found it 1:40 of nonsense and wooden acting by a "WWE Superstar." You want better cars smashing? Michael Bay did it much more effectively in The Rock...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron-P View Post
    Blind bought this today and am watching it tonight. Looks like a fun, action packed popcorn ride of a movie.
    Good luck...

    Just as a tip Mike, (don't take this the wrong way) try to cut a lot of the fat out of your reviews and focus only on the film and tech aspects, there's just too much to read, and try to avoid negative, immature comments.
    It's the style in which I write my reviews -- they're slanted this way for a certain audience in other mediums, and I do some altering for the online ones. I understand it's a lot to read through, but that's why I call it a "Plot Analysis"...I have a great deal of thoughts to get out about a certain film, and I just express them. The so-called negative "immature" comments I cannot stop posting because they irk me -- MANY things about our society at large irks me, and I point them out when they're blaringly annoying in films, such as teenage girls who have NO CLUE what this world is about nor why we should watch films -- and who would rather be texting their 200 other stupid friends in the theater while we try and watch a picture -- and for people like John Cena, who I loathe when he's called a "superstar" yet walks around in the ring with $8.00 Wal-Mart denim shorts on. It's ridiculous, and it's part of my expression.

    Thanks for reading, though, and let us know what you thought of 12 ROUNDS...:o

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    Quote Originally Posted by Keiko View Post
    Thanks Mike. I enjoy your reviews. I'll put this on my rent list.
    Hey, Buddy!

    Thank you so much for reading and commenting; I appreciate it!

    Let us know what you think of this when you have a chance. :)

  11. #11
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    My wife and I both really enjoyed it. Better then average story, great action sequences, and some great cinematography and quite a few edge of your seat moments. Not much to dislike about the film, other then some average acting which most films like this suffer from. A great addition to the collection for action movie fans.
    Last edited by Ron-P; 07-04-2009 at 02:23 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ron-P View Post
    My wife and I both really enjoyed it. Better then average story, great action sequences, and some great cinematography and quite a few edge of your seat moments. Not much to dislike about the film, other then some average acting which most films like this suffer from. A great addition to the collection for action movie fans.
    My kind of review, I'll check it out. Not to discredit the OP's review, which is well written, but as mentioned, sometimes just a tad long. Nice work though.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherardp View Post
    Nice work though.
    Thanks Shera; it was, after all, a full-length professional-style review.

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    My wife and I watched this the other night and although we both enjoyed it, it reminded us both of "Diehard 3: Die Hard With A Vengance" too much, right down to the reason behind the whole "12 Rounds". ;)
    Last edited by jgido759; 07-05-2009 at 10:12 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sherardp View Post
    My kind of review, I'll check it out. Not to discredit the OP's review, which is well written, but as mentioned, sometimes just a tad long. Nice work though.
    For your information, also, Shera, although you refer to it as a "review," this statement below does not constitute a optical media disc review in any sense of the term:

    "My wife and I both really enjoyed it. Better then average story, great action sequences, and some great cinematography and quite a few edge of your seat moments. Not much to dislike about the film, other then some average acting which most films like this suffer from. A great addition to the collection for action movie fans."

    ;)

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    Quote Originally Posted by jgido759 View Post
    My wife and I watched this the other night and although we both enjoyed it, it reminded us both of "Diehard 3: Die Hard With A Vengance" too much, right down to the reason behind the whole "12 Rounds". ;)
    Isn't that what I pointed out in the initial review -- the parallel (pathetically obvious in my opinion, on Renny Harlin's behalf) to Vengeance?

    It's not "Diehard 3" BTW, just "Die Hard with a Vengeance." ;)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike LoManaco View Post
    Isn't that what I pointed out in the initial review -- the parallel (pathetically obvious in my opinion, on Renny Harlin's behalf) to Vengeance?

    It's not "Diehard 3" BTW, just "Die Hard with a Vengeance." ;)
    My apologies, Mike. I did read your review before seeing the flick, although it was just a skim-through, and I missed the Die Hard comparison. :o

    BTW, for whatever reason, I can't help but refer to the last 2 installments of the Die Hard franchise as "3 & 4". :)
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    Quote Originally Posted by jgido759 View Post
    My apologies, Mike. I did read your review before seeing the flick, although it was just a skim-through, and I missed the Die Hard comparison. :o

    BTW, for whatever reason, I can't help but refer to the last 2 installments of the Die Hard franchise as "3 & 4". :)
    It's all good. :)

    Thanks for reading and joining the thread!

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    glad my firmware update for the oppo allowed me to watch this tonight lots of senseless action that goes boom woo hoo good movie no kept me entertained you betcha lol

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    Quote Originally Posted by ntculenuff View Post
    glad my firmware update for the oppo allowed me to watch this tonight lots of senseless action that goes boom woo hoo good movie no kept me entertained you betcha lol

    HA HA HA "you land it, bitch" HA HA HA
    Wow -- way to pull this one out of the closet, ntc! Your brand new Oppo needed a firmware update to play 12 Rounds???

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    well i had to say something about the movie :) ha ha
    yeah for some reason this movie was having play back issues on the oppo some pioneers.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntculenuff View Post
    well i had to say something about the movie :) ha ha
    yeah for some reason this movie was having play back issues on the oppo some pioneers.
    Strange -- not good news, being that I was considering the Oppo for my next player...:(

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike LoManaco View Post
    Strange -- not good news, being that I was considering the Oppo for my next player...:(
    i wouldn't count it out based on that it is a phenomenal player, just needed a firmware update, no biggie.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ntculenuff View Post
    i wouldn't count it out based on that it is a phenomenal player, just needed a firmware update, no biggie.
    I have been hearing nothing but glowing comments -- is it really that good?

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