October 15, 2006

Movie Review: The Marine

The 1980's called, they want their movie back. The Marine would have been a surefire hit about twenty years ago. When I first saw the trailer and read the description, one movie popped into my head, 1985's Commando. The two movies have a little bit in common, just enough to make me long for some of those pure action flicks from the era.

The Marine is the second film from the new arm of Vince McMahon's entertainment empire, WWE Films. McMahon started the division to develop film concepts centered around the wrestlers in his employ. The first film released was See No Evil, a horror film centered around Kane as the monstrous killer. This time out we have current WWE Champion John Cena playing a former Marine who is out to rescue his wife from a psychotic diamond thief and his thugs.

I will say this about Vince and WWE Films, they have done a good job at developing these projects. They are not over reaching with their scope or expectations, and to that end, the films do not have to do a lot to be successful. They will quietly build a reputation, an approach that seems to be paying off. Neither of their releases are great films by any stretch, but they have both been highly entertaining.

The movie starts with John Cena, as John Triton, in Iraq, where he disobeys a direct order in favor of rescuing some of his captured comrads. This results in his discharge from the Corps, and return to his wife in the States. This is the standard way of opening an action film, it quickly establishes our star as a hero who is not afraid to break the rules in order to do the right thing, plus it has no impact on the rest of the film, outside of the character setup.

What follows is a wild, over the top, and completely unbelieveable action romp. The bullets fly, lots (and I mean lots) of stuff blows up, and in the end the good guy wins. Whoops, did I just give away the ending? I sure hope not, but did you honestly think that the bad guy would win?

Robert Patrick is Rome, the leader of our gaggle of bickering thieves. The way they act, you have to wonder how they get anything done. Well, I guess they didn't get it done here, but I am sure you see what I mean. They pull off a daring heist of a diamond shop, complete with a speech and witty one liners, but on the way on the way out, they have a little trouble which requires them to skip town right quick.

On their run from the law, they have an altercation at a gas station which finds them taking Triton's wife as a hostage. The one man wrecking crew speeds off after them, dead set on rescuing his her. There is nothing terribly new while the plot careens wildly along its predetermined path, en route to its explosive climax. Despite the lack of any originality whatsoever, I found myself enjoying the movie.

Robert Patrick definitely brings a little class, and star power, to the project. His work as Rome is actually pretty good. Sure, it is an over the top character with some goofy one liners, but he just does it so well. On the side of good, John Cena shows that he is capable of acting, not great acting, but acting nonetheless. He pulls off the big stunts and is good at appearing nothing other than determined.

Again, this is not a good movie, and it is filled with scenes that induce unintentional laughter, but it knows what it is and it goes for it. Will it be remembered a few months from now? Probably not. It is good for the moment, and I will recommend it for that.

The one thing that struck me, pretty early on, was just how much stuff they blow up in 90 minutes. It seems like every few minutes something new is getting blown sky high, and I mean sky high. Half the budget must have gone towards explosives. The explosions are absolutely massive, perhaps to create a distraction from how generic the movie is as a whole.

Bottomline. Fun and forgettable, just what you need from a popcorn muncher such as this. This is the kind of movie that is all set to be trashed by critics, but I could not do it. This is not high art, and it is not meant to make any statement about society. It is merely an action film that is made for purely entertainment purposes. What's so wrong with that?

Mildly Recommended.
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