12 Rounds

Movie review by
James Rocchi, Common Sense Media
12 Rounds Movie Poster Image
So-so action movie has lots of fighting, other iffy stuff.
  • PG-13
  • 2009
  • 108 minutes

Parents say

age 11+
Based on 5 reviews

Kids say

age 10+
Based on 6 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The movie's overall message is that law and order are preferable to revenge and chaos, but that message comes with a great deal of violence.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Hero Danny Fisher is a conflicted cop determined to do the right thing, and he expresses remorse for the accidental death of a woman during an arrest. The villain is motivated by grief, but that doesn't excuse his actions.


Constant action-packed violence, but with more combat/activity than bloodshed. Fighting, shootings, stabbings, death by explosions, and more. A woman is struck by a car; the camera lingers on her dead body. People are killed in falls from great heights. A woman has an explosive vest strapped to her body. Property damage and car chases. Some discussion of terrorism.


Some kissing and saucy talk in the context of a committed relationship. One character is an unrepentant womanizer. On the "plus" side, while the film revolves around a woman's abduction, the threat is never placed in a sexual context, just a threat to life and limb.


Some tough language, including "s--t," "ass," "hell," "bitch," "son of a bitch," "pansy-ass," "a--hole," "prick," "goddamn," "oh my God," and more.


Mentions of some branded games -- Mousetrap, Monopoly, Twister.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Smoking and drinking; many scenes are set in New Orleans' restaurant and nightclub district.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a review of the theatrical release and not the DVD -- which comes with what's described as "two alternate endings and more action." The original release is packed with action, but it's more about the spectacle than it is about bloodshed. Not that you won't see some blood, but the tone is more enthusiastic and amped-up than sadistic or brutal. All of that said, expect plenty of on-screen deaths and tons of collateral property damage. There's also some discussion of terrorism, but the action is more personal than political. Language includes the usual suspects for PG-13 ("s--t," "bitch," "goddamn," etc.), and there's some drinking, smoking, kissing, and womanizing.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent Written byJohn C. April 6, 2018

John Cena Who?

The movie was ultimately awesome!! But one thing to do note. Why is the actor missing!!!!!!
Adult Written byMovieLover4Lyfe May 26, 2010
I'm not sure I'll be watching this movie, although I do love John Cena. The CS review just doesn't make it out to be that interesting...
Kid, 12 years old November 9, 2010

Awesome for all ages

Love this video it sets good images of wwe and not bad for my baby. My kids and i loved it and hope to have another one of it.
Kid, 12 years old July 18, 2010
This is a really good movie and should be ok for kids 12 and over

What's the story?

In 12 ROUNDS, New Orleans cop Danny Fisher (John Cena) luckily catches international arms dealer Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen). Fisher is promoted for his work, but a year later he still feels remorse over the fact Jackson's girlfriend Erika (Taylor Cole) died during the arrest. Miles is still upset about it, too -- and, having escaped from prison, he proceeds to abduct Fisher's girlfriend Molly (Ashley Scott) and set Fisher a series of 12 tasks. If Fisher fails, Molly dies. ...

Is it any good?

Directed by Renny Harlin, 12 Rounds doesn't exactly reinvent the wheel; its plot is a recycling of Die Hard with a Vengance. In essence, a maniacal criminal gives a cop a series of orders that feel like part of a crazy game but actually have a more specific intent than just sowing chaos and despair.

Cena's dedicated tough-guy cop is adequate -- as an actor, Cena's a heck of a wrestler -- and Gillen (best known as Baltimore Mayor Tommy Carcetti on The Wire) brings a fevered energy to his role as the master manipulator bad guy, an arms dealer who has more in common with comic-book geniuses like The Joker than real arms traders. While 12 Rounds is well-made and energetic, it isn't unique enough to go the distance.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the appeal of action films -- why do so many movies revolve around cops, criminals, and the challenges of maintaining order? What's the impact of watching so much action violence?

  • Do you think a situation like the one in the movie could ever happen in real life? 

  • The movie was backed by the entertainment arm of World Wrestling Entertainment. Why do you think they want to turn John Cena into a movie star as well as a wrestling star?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

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