Saturday, September 17, 2011

The Marine (2006)

Ever since Dwayne Johnson's propulsion into Hollywood stardom, the World Wresting Federation (WWE) and its domineering owner Vince McMahon have culled their ranks looking for the next The Rock. But rather than give him up to the Disneys and Universal Pictureses of the world, McMahon hopes to use his own WWE Studios to reap the rewards of his fame.

Such is the case of wrestler John Cena. Akin to a hulked out Mark Wahlberg, Cena emulated Wahlberg's Marky Mark routine and spent his early wrestling career making bank on the resemblance, short of producing his own Starz series Cort├Ęge, about the hangers-on of a super star professional wrestler. Instead, Cena begins his screen career with the 2006 film The Marine, about a beefy soldier ousted from military service whose wife is kidnapped by homicidal diamond thieves. If you base the quality of a film by the number of times a hero jumps from an exploding building, The Marine is your flick.

Stepping on the flag? For shame.
John Triton (John Cena) is the sole member of a reconnaissance mission sent to investigate captured U.S. soldiers in Iraq. When the situation escalates, Triton disobeys a direct order and rescues his countrymen with the efficiency and precision you would expect from someone who can't raise his arms above his head.

You should already find about eight things wrong with this opening shot.
He saves everyone and kills all the baddies, but this apparently doesn't matter to central command, who discharges him for disobeying orders. I would like to take this time to point out that recent Medal of Honor recipient Dakota Meyer was awarded for doing something very similar.

Triton returns home to South Carolina (which in no way resembles northeast Australia) to his smokin' hot NASCAR wife Kate (Kelly Carlson). He wastes no times carrying her into the house, carrying her to the bed, carrying her to the kitchen counter. My point is she doesn't spend a lot of time on her feet.

This'll do until we can scrounge up some foot bindings.
Meanwhile, a ruthless gang of criminals, led by Rome (Robert Patrick) rob the only diamond store in South Carolina. To make sure no one gives chase, Rome fires on a cop car with a machine gun, and token angry black gangmember Morgan (Anthony Ray Parker) finishes it off with a rocket launcher.

Screenshot from Saint's Row. I mean, this movie.
The gang comes across more police at a gas station, which of course warrants shooting the cops, knocking Triton unconscious, kidnapping his wife, and torching the entire store. Triton gives chase in an indestructible cop car, and they find themselves in the swamps (?) of South Carolina. Triton is knocked unconscious AGAIN by some methhead rednecks (he really should get a concussion test after this) and eventually saves his wife after jumping away from a few more explosions.

Oh. My. God. Gas is only $1.74???
The soundtrack retains the subtlety you could expect from an action movie produced by a wrestling organization. Returning home from war? Get out the Celine Dion tin whistle. A black man appears? Play the generic-brand Good Times theme. Sex scene? Fire up the wakachawaka guitar. Implied anal rape? Did somebody say Deliverance?

The Marine is about as subtle with its soundtrack as it is with gender politics. John's wife Kate spends about 90% of the film passed from one beefy guy to another. When she is allowed to stand on her own recognizance, she spends this time instigating or participating in catfights with the only other woman in the movie, gangmember Angela (Abigail Bianca). Outbursts of "BITCH" are not uncommon, between the scratching and hair pulling. Unfortunately they never stumble into any mud pits or wet t-shirt contests, so we are unable to see these scuffles escalate to their expected climax.

"This'll teach you to have better HAIR than me!"
The script is brisk, with a mile-wide suspension of disbelief and some Grand Canyon-sized plot holes. Why show the police car with a flat tire if it will participate in a 10 mile high speed chase immediately after? How did Triton get caught by the rednecks but the people he pursued did not? Why does every bar in South Carolina have an exclusive contract with Miller Genuine Draft?

This random act of destruction brought to you by Miller.
The Marine originally planned to shoot in 2004, with Al Pacino and Steve Austin in the lead roles. It would have been fun to watch a coked-out Pacino yell through each take, while Steve Austin squints and pretends to be human. However, Patrick does a good job with the goofy script, and Cena is attractive and personable as the hero. If he toned down the upper body a bit he could almost resemble a legitimate movie star.

Overall The Marine is a fun if moronic movie. It's brainless but never attempts to be otherwise, and despite some primitive views on race and gender, it's no more unrefined than any other Hollywood action movie or direct-to-video venture. It's an enjoyable romp through the swamps of Queensland, South Carolina and I hope Cena gets better roles in the future.

Arbitrary Rating

3 explosion jumps out of 3.


Rome: I don't want to see any eye contact. I have severe intimacy issues and a gun.

Morgan: I hate cops. And rock candy.

Rome: You never know when you'll need a crazy son of a bitch.

Morgan: That's a creepy-ass snake!

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