Who's In It: John Cena, Ashley Scott, Aiden Gillen, Steve Harris, Brian White
The Basics: Like a possibly fatal episode of "The Amazing Race," a hulking New Orleans detective has to complete a series of impossible tasks and go "twelve rounds" with an international terrorist who's kidnapped the guy's wife. That the crazy challenges charge headlong into preposterousness toward a helicopter battle is the best thing about it. Thank you, Renny Harlin, director of The Long Kiss Goodnight; I knew I could count on you.
What's The Deal: I was hoping this would be awful/awesome in the way that Cena's earlier starring role in The Marine turned out to be. But it's not like that. What we get is a sometimes suspenseful action movie with a few cool moments stolen from other films like Speed and Spiderman 2. None of it makes any real-world sense and it requires its lead character to have magical powers, inhuman strength and physical resiliency that only exist in the fantasyland of the WWE. But at least you get to see vehicles destroyed and a lot of stuff get blown up.
Career Moves Learned From The History Of Wrestlers In Film: Cena clearly knows his limits as an actor because the script doesn't make him do a whole lot more than look upset, growl "I'm gonna kill you" into cellphones and bark orders like, "Get down! It's gonna blow!" And if you look back at how The Rock dipped his foot into moviemaking waters, you can see the playbook in action. In five years Cena's starring in a Disney film about a mean pro athlete whose heart gets melted by a 5-year-old girl. Just wait and see.
The Burden Of The MPAA: Like the other PG-13 misfire that opens this weekend, The Haunting in Connecticut, you can feel this movie straining at the seams of its contractually imposed rating. And no one really wins at this game. The filmmakers have to dilute their bad guys, the audience misses out on cathartic carnage, the revenge killings are bloodless and you have to listen to a furious Cena shout, "Screw you!" to the terrorist who wants to blow up his wife.
Let's Destroy New Orleans One More Time: It's a little weird to watch buildings and cars blown sky high and people succumb to needless death in a city that's already been through the wringer. But at least it's fiction this time. And they didn't make Vancouver stand in for it.