With The Marine comes WWE’s John Cena in his first theatrical debut. Cena is big, tough, rough, dedicated, and full of presence on the screen. The plot follows John Triton as he serves in Iraq, disobeys orders, and is discharged from the military. That covers the first five minutes. After returning home to the mountainous state of South Carolina (yeah, I know) Triton finds himself stuck in the middle of a crime ring that needs a fill-up at the same time he does. His wife and SUV are stolen and Triton emerges from a fireball of what used to be a gas station to save the love of his life.
As to be expected with a WWE film, as the story takes us further there are explosions and fistfights followed by more even bigger explosions and fistfights. These repeated sequences quickly become the cinematic equivalent of a cartoon chase where they pass the same lamp, chair, and window over and over again. To watch The Marine, it will take more than a suspension of disbelief. The story and dialogue are written about as well as they are for Smackdown and Raw, just as a more violent soap opera, and the acting is equivalent. Many of the lines come off forced and over acted and the sequence of events doesn't exactly fit together like a puzzle.
The scene that takes place at the gas station for example: At one point a couple of cops show up in a marked sports car. After some shooting, one camera angle shows a flat tire on the cop’s patrol car. Time elapses, the wife is kidnapped, stuff explodes (but not the car which is practically right next to the blazing pumps) and Cena runs through the fireball without a single burn and hops into the car. Amazingly, the heat from the explosion must have re-inflated that tire because for the next ten minutes there’s a car chase with that same once obviously flat tire now intact. Wow, what a work of creative genius. Basically, if the studio removed the first five minutes and never mentioned the word “marine” again it could have been called The Unbelievable Journey of a Man on Steriods.
Not to mention that it takes an hour and a half, close to ten huge explosions, eight wall busting brawls, a beer bottle being broken on Cena’s face, and the car chase, before finally- 90 minutes in- Robert Patrick’s character breaks skin when he hits Triton in the face. That’s the only thing that ends up injuring Cena.. No bruises, burns, broken bones, scrapes… nothing. It’s unbelievable to say the least. Let’s reflect back to Die Hard 2. At the end Bruce Willis was torn up, bleeding, limping, panting, the works. Was he really hurt? Did people believe everything that just happened, really happened? No. But that’s why it’s called “acting.” It was real enough to be entertaining even without buying it. If The Marine happened in real life, Cena would have been sent to the hospital to recover after about thirty minutes. So why can’t he play along and a least pretend to be pushing through some kind of pain (like he does in his day job)?
If anyone does well in this film it is Robert Patrick who definitely takes the words he is given and turns them into a character. Unfortunately, the strength of Patrick’s maturity can’t save the entire film, meaning The Marine needs to be locked up in the WWE vault and never be re-released or risk being court martialed. Chock full of unnecessary explosions, fights, and turns of events, one must only hope there will never be a sequel. Much like in the film, the movie The Marine needs to be dishonorably discharged.
The disc for The Marine holds there are tons of extras, but none of them are really desirable and they even get to the point that you start seeing the same clips and hearing the same sound bites over and over again. The key component to a good set of extras, the commentary track, is missing. What good is that? It’s like sitting down at the table with hotdog buns but no hotdogs. There could have been audio tracks with grip #3 for all I care, but at least offer something.
One thing The Marine disc does have going for it is the fact that it contains both the theatrical version of the picture as well as the unrated one. While there is probably only about three minutes of difference between the two, it is nice to see it available on one disc. A nice stunt would have been to make it a two-disc set and jack the price up but they didn’t, so I appreciate that. Some other nice features on the disc include a profile of John Cena, his not-quite-military history, and a segment about his basic training so he could appreciate what real marines go through to become who they are.
Also of note is the “making of” featurette which is surprisingly good and full of all the right things: shots of the movie, interviews with the actors and the behind the scene workers, as well as a little insight into the film. The disc also carries with it a section about the world premiere of the film which took place at Camp Pendleton, which is definitely a fitting tribute to the troops to hold the opening there with them rather than on some red carpet some where.
What doesn't work on the disc, aside from the lack of an audio commentary, is the set of WWE promotional clips. These are shots which range from thirty seconds to a minute long that aired on television during WWE shows to promote the film. That’s fine, but given the repetitiveness of the clips, hitting the Play All option is brutal. These definitely work best spaced out over periods of time and beer. Come to think of it, it’s quite possible the same could be true for the movie as well. Call your local Budweiser representative and ask about home delivery.