John Cena in '12 Rounds' (Fox Atomic)

Poor New Orleans! As if the real-life horrors of Hurricane Katrina and the broken levees weren't bad enough, now the beautiful city must suffer from the devastation wrought by Danny Fisher, played by former * WWE wrestler / entertainer John Cena in 12 Rounds, the latest train wreck from director Renny Harlin. "Damn the property damage! I'm going to save my girlfriend, whatever the cost!" is a noble sentiment, especially when you don't have to pay the bills.

Danny isn't really responsible for the carnage he causes, of course, even though he politely apologizes whenever he crashes into other people's vehicles or accidentally kills people. (Cena furrows his brow and turns his smile upside down, just so you know he's not happy with himself.) The real blame lies with Miles Jackson, who is seeking revenge on Danny for the death of his girlfriend. Jackson is described as an international arms dealer, but he spends much more time blowing things up and changing SIM cards in cell phones than any actual dealing of arms.

Aidan Gillen, who was superb as a cagey, ambitious, well-intentioned politician in The Wire, has much less to play with here, but it's fun to watch him try to juice up the role of an exceptionally-nasty master criminal with absolutely no scruples or second thoughts. He provides one of the few true pleasures in 12 Rounds, which should be a lot more fun than it is. Instead of embracing its loonier plot elements -- a fire engine crashing across town, a ticking time bomb on a public bus, an out-of-control street car -- 12 Rounds insists on playing it straight as a sober drama, ending up as Speed without the flirtations or thrills.

categories Reviews, Cinematical