What are those circumstances? Late night cable or a rental for a slow night. The movie brings to mind action films of the 1980s with the big muscle-bound hero taking on the bad guy through brute force. It is corny, cheesy, not terribly well acted or directed, and with a screenplay offering no depth at all. It does not rise to the level the best of that era had to offer, but it is entertaining enough to hold your attention for a couple hours. If you come across it and enjoy goofy action films, this will be right up your alley. On that level it is sort of fun.
Renny Harlin is the man behind the camera and has had a career filled with this sort of movie. Just look at Die Hard 2: Die Harder, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Cliffhanger, Driven, Mindhunters. The list goes on. This movie fits right in with that line up.
John Cena is a decent enough action star. He has a certain screen charisma and natural ability, but they need someone with more skills than Harlin to focus them. Still, Cena is likable and does a good job of focusing the audience's attention.
This box is labeled as an "Extreme Edition" and the featured cut runs about two minutes longer than the orignal cut. Although I am hard pressed to tell you what was different. Nothing really stood out to me as different from the theatrical release.
Audio/Video. The video, presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, generally looks pretty good. There is a fair amount of film grain present, particularly in the night sequences. Despite this, there is still a good level of detail. Fast action is smooth and the explosions look pretty solid. It is a not the best looking Blu-ray I have seen, but it is definitely a step up from DVD!
The audio is rock solid. Listen to the roar of the Camaro during round three; also of note are the trolley sequence and the elevator fall. The explosions and engine roars have real substance, while everything else is always nice and clear. Not quite reference material, but definitely solid.
Extras. This release comes with a few bonus materials to check out.
- Commentary. This track features Renny Harlin, and judging by what he says, you would think they are making the greatest action film ever. Still, he is proud of his work and everyone should be, otherwise why do it? He does offer up plenty of interesting information about the shoot and is worth a peek by the curious.
- Streetcar Crossing: Film with Caution. This covers the shooting of the trolley sequence. It is a big action scene and this shows the amount of work that went into making the scene work, not to mention the logistics with shutting down New Orleans' mains roadway.
- A Crash Course: John Cena Stunts. This takes a look a the stunts of the film and the training that John Cena went through to make them work.
- Never Before Cena Gag Reel. Pretty much what you would expect: flubbed lines and goofy behind the scenes bits.
- Keeping Score: The Music of 12 Rounds. This is pretty cool. Being a fan of film scores, it is interesting to see this part of the process. Trevor Rabin is the film's composer and the music is actually pretty good.
- Round and Round with Renny and John. Funny, they comment on the similarities between Cena and Matt Damon. This featurette is comprised of interview footage with both Cena and Harlin on and around the set. It is pretty funny, especially Cena's impression of Renny.
- Bonus Rounds. A series of shorter featurettes covering topics such as development of the concept, weapons training, the cars, and more.
- Alternate Endings. There are a couple of different endings. One features another guy on the roof after getting out of the pool, the other has a longer conversation with the couple in the hot tub. Nothing special or terribly different.
- Viral Videos. The movie has a couple viral videos. One centers on the size of Cena's hands and the need for a hand model, it is actually pretty funny. The other concerns the helicopter and an unfortunate explosion.
Bottomline. Not a great movie, not by a long shot, but still has its moments and on a B-level is actually decent. You can poke holes in the plot, mock the script, guffaw at the performances, and not be bored for a couple of hours. It also has a decent selection of extras that are worth checking out. Rent it, watch it on cable, it works as a time waster.