A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
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.
- Parents say
- Kids say
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?
- In theaters: March 27, 2009
- On DVD or streaming: June 30, 2009
- Cast: Aidan Gillen, Ashley Scott, John Cena
- Director: Renny Harlin
- Studio: Fox Atomic
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Run time: 108 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence and action.
- Last updated: March 14, 2020
For kids who love action
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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