After proving himself to be an action star with The Marine in 2006, WWE superstar John Cena returns in this action packed thriller that has one detective involved in one of the biggest “games” of his life, one that could possibly cause him just that…his life.

May 16, 2007. The FBI has attempted to nab suspected arms dealer Miles Jackson for a long time. However, a botched deal from a so-called mole ruined their chances of ever getting him. During a routine traffic stop, New Orleans police officer Danny Fisher goes after Jackson and his girlfriend after his partner is shot down. When Fisher finally catches Jackson and his girlfriend, an attempt to escape leaves Miles’ girlfriend dead and Miles captured.

Flash forward to the present. Danny has now become a detective and lives at home with his longtime girlfriend Molly. However, his past catches up to him as exactly one year to the day of that fateful incident, Miles has escaped from prison and to make matters worse, he kidnaps Molly. Danny discovers the only way to stop Miles is to play along with a “game” Miles calls “12 Rounds”. To Miles, it is all about getting revenge for his girlfriend’s death and putting Danny in an ultimate cat-and-mouse game could prove to be not only dangerous, but potentially fatal.

WWE Superstar John Cena, following in the footsteps of fellow wrestler turned actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and “Stone Cold” Steve Austin, slowly is beginning to make a somewhat decent comparison as he fared well in his film debut, The Marine, in 2006. However, with his second film, what helps Cena in his action star status is a pretty decent storyline and the direction by Renny Harlin, the Finnish-born director of Die Hard 2 (1990).

Speaking of Die Hard, the film bears some resemblance to Die Hard with a Vengeance (1992), in which Bruce Willis’ John McClane plays a game of cat-and-mouse with revenge seeking Jeremy Irons. Instead of New York, the film is set in New Orleans where Cena’s Danny Fisher plays the ultimate cat-and-mouse game with a revenge seeking fellow.

While Cena displayed hand-to-hand combat and his skills with the gun in The Marine, in this film, he uses more of his street smarts to play the game. He may be seen by some as just another wrestler turned actor but here, it is the intelligence of Detective Fisher in addition to some of his action scenes that could potentially turn Cena into the next Dwayne Johnson down the road.

Aiden Gillen, perhaps known for his roles in The Wire and the Jackie Chan-Owen Wilson starrer Shanghai Knights (2003) makes for a very good villain in suspected arms dealer Miles Jackson. Very clever, he always tends to get the upper hand in the game and even goes as far as pulling some aces in the hole when necessary. Ashley Scott, who almost a decade ago, kicked some major butt as Huntress on the television series Birds of Prey, plays damsel-in-distress Molly. She has a somewhat rocky relationship with Fisher, but the game may ultimately bring them together. This is Scott’s second film with WWE Studios as she appeared as the love interest/damsel-in-distress in the remake of Walking Tall (2004) opposite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson.

In the end, 12 Rounds is a pretty good action thriller with a pretty good performance from John Cena, an intelligent villain in Aiden Gillen, and a cat-and-mouse game that altogether may help Cena rise to become one of the next big action stars.


20th Century Fox presents a WWE Studios Film. Director: Renny Harlin. Producers: Mark Gordon, Michael Lake, and Josh McLaughlin. Writer: Daniel Kunka. Cinematography: David Boyd. Editing: Brian Berdan.

Cast: John Cena, Aidan Gillen, Ashley Scott, Steve Harris, Brian J. White, Gonzalo Menendez, Taylor Cole.