Cinema audiences will forgive an inherently stupid action film almost anything, providing it is entertaining.
12 Rounds, the latest overblown adrenaline rush from Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger director Renny Harlin would be afforded the same leniency if it didn’t take itself so seriously.
The film’s hulking lead star, WWE wrestler John Cena is pitted against a mad man in a series of preposterous challenges, which even include halting a runaway tram.
If only 12 Rounds winked at the audience, just once, to let us know it is in on the joke.
The story sees New Orleans police officer Danny Fisher (Cena) and partner Hank Carver (Brian White) become involved in the FBI stakeout of psychopath Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen).
After a frenetic chase, Danny apprehends Miles and is inadvertently responsible for the death of the mad man’s girlfriend-accomplice.
A year later, Miles breaks out of jail to wreak revenge on Danny and kidnaps his girlfriend Molly (Ashley Scott).
To save his sweetheart, the muscular cop – now promoted to detective – must undertake a series of games against the clock.
12 Rounds is a series of accomplished action set-pieces flimsily glued together by the battle of dull wits between Danny and Miles.
With second-hand stunts seemingly lifted from other movies and, surprisingly for a professional wrestler, unconvincing grapples, the film flatters to deceive.
STAR RATING: **