Sunday, April 5, 2009
Every once in a while, I enjoy a good, mindless action flick. By mindless, I mean that I like the big explosions and constant action that don't require a lot of thought. But when an action film presents itself as calculated and cerebral I hold it to a different standard. The premise in 12 Rounds pits a police officer against the smartest guy on Earth. The action was great, the dialogue tolerable but major plot holes created a gap in credibility.
12 Rounds takes place in New Orleans, where inept FBI Agents allow a slippery international terrorist and arms dealer (Miles Jackson, played by Aidan Gillen) slip through their fingers. An alert police officer, Danny Fisher (John Cena), recognizes a female associate of Jackson's at a stop light. A traffic stop turned bad results in a chase that ends up taking the life of Jackson's girlfriend. One year later, Jackson escapes from prison and creates an elaborate scheme to exact revenge on Officer Fisher. To get his girlfriend back, Officer Fisher must survive twelve rounds of impossible challenges set up by Jackson.
The "game" begins when Fisher's girlfriend leaves for work. A few minutes after her departure, Fisher's phone rings. Jackson is on the other end of the line. Fisher exits the house, where two explosions begin the battle of wills. The movie becomes non-stop action from that point forward. The explosions were big, the car chases exciting and the tension often blood pumping. However, some of the chess moves set up by Jackson required specific reactions by Fisher for the entire plot to succeed. Even one deviation may have derailed the sub-plots. And there lies my greatest issue with this film.
While the FBI is tracking Jackson through the streets of New Orleans, early in the film, we observe Jackson passing a table where two men are playing chess. With a casual glance in passing, Jackson returns to the table and explains how the other guy will win in three moves and then provides instruction for the players next move. I don't know that even Bobby Fischer (is it a coincidence that Cena's character is named Fisher?) could have pulled that one off. Jackson is cold and calculating and plans every detail to the nth degree. So why leave anything to chance?
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