8:00 PM, 28th August, 2009
This is an out and out action film and not a bad one at that. Done. If you need to know more than that, then Danny (Cena) is the good guy and Miles (Gillen) is the bad guy. Miles has kidnapped Danny's girlfriend and that's bad. Done. Now sit back and enjoy the great car chases, explosions, fight scenes and the feast for the eyes.
The "12 Rounds" in the title refers to the 12 rounds of the dangerous game that Miles has carefully plotted throughout the streets of New Orleans, which Danny must make it through to get his girlfriend back. You see, Good Detective Danny arrested Bad Terrorist Miles a year ago and now Miles has escaped and wants revenge. It's an unlikely scenario to be sure, but if you can go with it, it's preposterous enough to make for an interesting plot.
There are a lot of leaps of logic and at times it would be best to forget what your physics teacher taught you, but it is a solid action film. A few of the sequences suffer from quick cuts and shaky cam a la Quantum of Solace, and 12 Rounds doesn't bring much to the table in terms of new concepts but it's entertaining. Just don't question it too much and you'll be fine.
10:03 PM, 28th August, 2009
Chris Wallace, AKA Biggie Smalls, AKA The Notorious B.I.G., was the other big casualty (no pun intended) of the mid-90s East Coast/West Coast rap feud, 2Pac being the East Coast casualty (ironically, since 2Pac had grown up in New York, just blocks away from Biggie, before his career took him to LA). Rather than focus on the feud, which is probably the better known part of his life, Notorious tells a much more personal tale about this larger than life personality. After flirting with gang life, Wallace cleaned up his act somewhat, and with the eager management of Sean "Puff Daddy" Coombs (played by an energized Derek Luke) he carved out a new market in hip-hop. He also had fairly highly-publicised romances with singers Faith Evans and Lil' Kim.
Notorious is a solid drama and one that is well worth a look regardless of your feeling towards Biggie's music. This is a classic tale of a young man who escapes a world of crime and poverty, only to be led into temptation before being completely chewed up by the corporate machine and its ridiculous, ultimately fatal, marketing. Newcomer Jamal Woolard puts in a highly commendable performance in the title role. The ever-commendable Angela Basset appears for a memorable, though unfortunately short, turn as Wallace's mother. Notorious is a surprisingly affecting film.