Twelve (2010)

Because I’m in a nice, generous mood today, I feel like clearing up some misconceptions about Twelve would do the world a favor. Plus, it’ll be more interesting than trying to describe and critique the film based on what I just watched, as it’s absolutely nothing special. Not terribly bad, either, I’d like to point out, but it’s little different from similar films, and it doesn’t necessarily deserve a watch.

I’ll quote from the DVD copy I have instead of a press kit because I don’t receive press kits. We’ll take this sentence by sentence, because I wouldn’t want to lose anyone. Basically what I want to do is make sure that if you plan on watching this film, you know what you’re getting into; the description on the back of the box is less than helpful.

“Hollywood’s hottest young stars deliver gripping performances in this suspenseful urban crime thriller.” That’s the first line from the little blurb. Now, first off, how man of these names will the average viewer recognize? If we stick to the under-25s, the primary cast consists of Esti Ginzburg, Jeremy Allen White, Philip Ettinger (I can’t find his real age, actually), Emily Meade, Emma Roberts, and Rory Culkin. I get one from that. There’s also Chace Crawford (he’s 26), who stars as our lead character, White Mike, but he’s not exactly a movie star. Furthermore, none of their performances were exactly “gripping” (they’re amiable, but not edge-of-your seat impressive), and this is in no way, shape, or form a thriller.

Next: “White Mike is a young drug dealer straddling the mean streets of Harlem and the party palaces of upper Manhattan.” Almost all of that is true. The “mean streets” isn’t accurate, though, as White Mike never has any problem with the streets. His clients are all quite nice, polite people, and even his fellow drug dealers (one of whom is played by Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson) are quite likable. “Mean streets” seems like a way to lure audiences in, making you think that it’s possible for him to get mugged turning around each corner, or something. Not going to happen, Twelve.

“Mike’s double life comes crashing down when a highly addictive new drug called “twelve” hits the streets, unleashing a shocking wave of passion and violence.” I’ll explain the double life first. White Mike hasn’t told his only friend, Molly (Roberts) that he deals drugs, instead explaining that he works night and day at his father’s restaurant. His life isn’t impacted much by the new drug, though; he doesn’t even deal it! His cousin dies because of it (something he only finds out very late), and there is only one other character in the film to actual try the drug. Also, I think they wanted the phrase “passionate violence” instead of “passion and violence,” as the latter separates the “passion” and “violence” parts. Is passion in and of itself bad? Also, there’s not a lot of violence save for two isolated incidents, only one of which is actually “violent.”

“Costarring [sic] Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson, Emma Roberts and Ellen Barkin, and directed by Joel Shumaker (Batman and Robin, A Time to Kill), this adaptation of Nick McDonnell’s acclaimed novel will leave you wired and breathless.” Okay, first off, 50 Cent shows up about three or four times, Emma Roberts is the only known name from the young cast, and Ellen Barkin has a cameo. Next, do you really think that advertising that Schumaker directed Batman and Robin is a good idea? I mean, there’s no lie in that statement, but wouldn’t listing one of his better films make people not put the case down after laughing for a few minutes?

The “wired and breathless” part is what gets to me the most, though. There’s not a lot of energy in the film, to be honest, so I don’t know why they think I’d be wired after watching it. Apart from the two times we see one of the character try twelve, we don’t witness the effects of any of the drugs. Characters, even if they’re drunk or high, don’t act any differently than they normally would. Mostly, we just follow the lives of some rich kids for three days. “Breathless” is simply a lie, unless you choke on your saliva while nodding off and end up dying. Then we could say that “Twelve really is dangerous.”

I’m surprised that there was no mention of the narrator, who is present more often than you would like and also completely ignores the tone of the film. Kiefer Sutherland provides narration of, well, everything that goes on here. But he’s funny and tries to make light of each event as the film progresses, even though there aren’t jokes to be had. He tells us unnecessary information about everyone in an attempt to make us laugh, and then we’ll witness someone getting shot, for instance. I don’t understand the direction the film wanted to pull me in. Did it want me to care about these kids, or did it want me to laugh at them?

I’ll write a more accurate blurb, people who did the DVD of Twelve. Here we go. “Twelve follows a group of boarding school kids home on spring break. Over the next three days, we watch them get involved with guns, drugs, superficiality and manipulation, all leading toward a birthday party with serious consequences for all involved. Containing performances from Kiefer Sutherland, Emma Robers, 50 Cent, Ellen Barkin, this drama brought to you by the director of The Lost Boys and Falling Down takes you into the world of crime in the rich district of Manhattan.”

At least, as long as you don’t fall asleep during the boring parts or recognize that there isn’t a shred of originality. But I wouldn’t include that in the blurb.

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