How come no one told John Cena that 1980's action heroes went out of style 15 years ago?
The Marine stars Professional Wrestler (why is it called "Professional"?) John Cena as buffed-up, emotionless ex-Marine Sergeant John Triton, who is honorably discharged from the military after disobeying orders (he just couldn't resist killing dozens of Iraqi "terrorists" and lighting a few on fire) and returns home to his scorching hot wife Kate (Kelly Carlson). Things are going fine until a bunch of psychotic jewelry thieves, led by none other than Robert Patrick, kidnap Kate and force John to rely on his close combat skills to get her back.
The Marine, directed by John Bonito (does that mean "pretty John" in Spanish?), is everything that an action movie should not be nowadays. Obviously attempting to resurrect the souped-up, brawn-over-brain action movies of the Arnold Schwarzenegger era, Bonito failed to realize that action movies have come a long way since then. People are no longer interested in watching some Neanderthal with bulging muscles run around and kill people when they can be more entertained by deadly assassins like Matt Damon, who looks just like you and me, kill and think at the same time. At the very least, even if you do stick to the by-the-numbers formula, at least select one of a thousand actors out there who have just a little bit of screen presence.
I like most of Arnold's movies and a fair amount of Stallone's as well. In fact, their movies are some of the most entertaining action movies ever. But there's one key thing that separates the likes of Arnold from Mr. Cena here: screen presence. Arnold may not be the greatest actor in the world (but obviously good enough to be elected governor), but he has charisma and seems to enjoy his work. Cena, on the other hand, just showed up for the job without any clue of how to act in a movie. The chemistry between him and his on-screen wife is pitiful at best, probably thanks to the fact that Carlson actually has acting ability and Cena has... well, none. And to be perfectly honest, I think the reason the main character's name is John is so that Cena would not become confused.
Aside from the lackluster performance of John Cena, The Marine also suffers a variety of other problems as well. The plot is lame, but we can forgive that. Patrick, who is a pretty good actor and can certainly be a good villain at times (Terminator 2, anyone?), is completely wasted here, and that is harder to forgive. More importantly, the movie isn't nearly as action-packed as you'd expect, and when it finally gets to the point where everything is action, the action just isn't that good. Bonito should have made The Marine like The Rundown, which is honestly painful in true WWE fashion (of course, what's real about the WWE?). Instead, the movie is just a collection of unbelievable action scenes that just make you want to watch Rambo. The movie also makes a few attempts at comedy, but with the combination of Cena's complete lack of delivery and added soundtrack to indicate to the audience that a joke was just performed, the humor falls flat on its face.
All that being said, The Marine is a dumb action movie and knows it, and so the film isn't completely unwatchable. It does have its moments, but moments out of an hour and a half movie are not worth it. The Marine isn't cool, even though it clearly wants to be.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.
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