November 12, 2006 -- “The Marine” is a standard Hollywood action film with a lot of explosions, fist fights, gun fights, chase scenes and crude humor (including pedophillia played for laughs). It might have been elevated from a C to a B, had its script, acting and direction had been a bit more sophisticated, but it is a pretty clumsy effort. It probably would have been better had an experienced action director been at the helm, but this was directed by John Bonito, whose previous experience is mainly World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) projects, which makes sense, since the star of the movie is a wrestler, John Cena, and one of the film's production companies is WWE.
Cena stars as the title character, a U.S. Marine, John Triton, who gets discharged for disobeying orders, even though his actions saved men being held as prisoners in Iraq. This is one of many dubious plot details in the film (and a minor one at that). Triton returns home to contemplate his future with hot wife, Kate (Kelly Carlson of “Nip/Tuck” TV show). He immediately blows a cushy security job in a subplot that goes nowhere. Then we get to the main plot, which is the wife in danger bit. A band of jewel thieves takes Kate hostage for no apparent reason and John spends the rest of the film chasing the bad guys. This is basically the same plot as most Arnold Schwarzenegger, Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren, Sylvester Stallone films. It is your typical action hero plot.
The bad guys are not very interesting, aside from the lead thief, Rome (Robert Patrick of “Flags of Our Fathers”), a psychopath with a bit of a sense of humor, and one of his underlings, Morgan (Anthony Ray Parker of “The Matrix”), the butt of the aforementioned pedophile joke. Morgan also complains about being typecast as the bad black guy, even though he is a murderer. Morgan's insistence on using the race card inappropriately is a running joke in the film, but it is not handled with the kind of finesse needed for this delicate racially-charged subject. This is not a subtle film in any case, except for the occaisional movie in-joke. One such joke arises when the bad guys comment on what a relentless pursuer John is. He's like “the Terminator,” they say. Of course Robert Patrick played a liquid-metal terminator in the first Terminator sequel. This is not the first time Patrick has been the subject of this same movie in-joke. The first time was, of course, in the first “Wayne's World” movie. At any rate Patrick shows he is a capable comic actor in this film.
Cena does a good job in his role as the hero. He's just doing the basic iron-faced routine perfected by Stallone and many others before him. It remains to be seen if the guy can act. He'll also have to prove that he can pick good scripts and good projects. This script is not very good and this film has some serious flaws. Kelly Carlson tries gamely to be spunky in her role as hostage, but despite attempts to make her look like something other than a victim, her main job in this film is to scream for John to save her. While the film has some very big explosions, it lacks the “wow” factor you need for this kind of film. For such a film to be successful, it needs spectacular stunts and special effects, or it needs interesting characters for the audience to care about. This film has neither. The plot is also very simple. There is an attempt to throw a twist into it, but an experienced moviegoer can spot this twist coming a mile away. It is not particularly a bad film. It is just nothing special. It rates a C.
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