12 Rounds parents guide

12 Rounds Parent Review

Most families will find it easy to come up with at least a dozen reasons to avoid this highly destructive duel.

Overall D+

An arrest and an accidental death caused by a car crash are all in the line of duty for Detective Danny Fisher (John Cena), until an escaped convict (Aidan Gillen) decides to hold him personally accountable. Kidnapping Fisher's girlfriend (Ashley Scott), the vengeful criminal arranges 12 Rounds of dangerous tests that must be successfully completed if the police officer ever hopes to see his fiancée alive again.

Violence D+
Sexual Content B-
Profanity D+
Substance Use B

12 Rounds is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action.

Movie Review

Just as the residents of New Orleans begin to recover from the effects of Hurricane Katrina, they are besieged by an escalating battle between a criminal mastermind, Miles Jackson (Aidan Gillen), and city police officer Danny Fisher (John Cena).

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A year earlier, the criminal’s girlfriend, Erica (Taylor Cole), was pulled over by the detective and his partner, Hank Carver (Brian White). The encounter turned bloody when the officers discovered Miles hiding in the car’s trunk with a case full of diamonds. In the fray that followed, Hank was injured, Erica was killed and Miles was captured and incarcerated.

Now nearly a year later, Miles has escaped from prison but no one bothers to share the news with the arresting officers. While FBI agents George Aiken (Steve Harris) and Ray Santiago (Gonzalo Menendez) attempt to track the escapee from the sidelines, Miles sets into action a plan to wreak revenge on the men he blames for Erica’s death.

First, Danny’s girlfriend, Molly (Ashley Scott) is kidnapped and sends a desperate plea for help from a cell phone. Interrupting the call, Miles gives Danny a chance to get the girl back by participating in 12 rounds of challenges. Despairing over his inability to protect those most important to him, Danny delves into the first test.

Along with brief depictions of sexual innuendo, kissing and the use of alcohol, the script relies heavily on portrayals of heightened violence between the cops and criminals. And though Danny’s dogged determination to free Molly from Miles’ clutches is understandable, the mounting collateral damage inflicted on the beleaguered city begs to be questioned. Detonating bombs in densely populated portions of the inner core and disabling critical mechanical devices, Miles appears to be as willing to take out his own men as he is law enforcement personnel and innocent bystanders, including children. With no trace of remorse, he premeditates the death of unwary tourists, hotel employees and security guards. The intense action is draining not only on Molly and the other characters that fall victim to Miles’ ruthless plan, but also for the audience who is dragged along for the ride.

As the body count rises together with the swelling amounts of property damage, the purpose of all this death for the sake of entertainment becomes dubious. And despite Danny’s seemingly unstoppable ability to fall from buildings, jump from speeding cars and still keep going, most families will find it easy to come up with at least a dozen reasons to avoid this highly destructive duel.

Starring John Cena, Ashley Scott, Aidan Gillen, Renny Harlin. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release March 27, 2009. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in 12 Rounds here.

12 Rounds Parents Guide

Do you think victims should be informed when convicts are released from prison? Why might people be reluctant to testify in a criminal case? What danger might the testifiers face?

How are interracial partnerships portrayed in this film? What is the difference between Danny and Hank’s relationship and the one shared by the FBI agents?

How does the film justify all the death and destruction that occurs during Danny’s effort to rescue Molly? What threats are posed to the family and friends of first responders?