One thing that I will freely admit to is that I am a wrestling fan and have been for over 30 years. Back in the day, wrestling used to come on right after Saturday morning cartoons and right before whatever B-movie the local channels would show Saturday afternoon, so there was not much reason for me not to watch it. So in the early 2000’s, WWE decided to start getting into the movie business and began producing movies that would star, or at least feature, some of the wrestlers in their company. The first three movies featured Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, while Kane (Glenn Jacobs) was the appropriate star for the fourth film, due to it being a horror movie. Then in 2006, WWE used this generation’s version of Hulk Hogan, John Cena, to star in their latest action movie. I will admit, I was bored and curious when I picked this movie up so let’s see just how good or bad The Marine is.
The plot: At an Al-Qaeda hideout in Iraq, Sgt. John Triton observes a group of terrorists preparing to kill some hostages and disobeys orders to wait for backup, choosing to go ahead and rescue the hostages. At a marine base in Germany, Triton is informed by his colonel that he is being honorably discharged for disobeying orders and sent home, where his wife Kate is happy to have him home. The next day, a group of criminals (Rome, Angela, Morgan, Bennett, and Vescera) rob a jewelry store and steal $12 million worth of diamonds, killing the worker that tipped them off to the score. Meanwhile, John takes a job as a security guard but when he gets in a confrontation with an employee’s ex-boyfriend and his bodyguards, he throws the ex-boyfriend through a window and ends up getting fired. Arriving home, he doesn’t tell Kate what happened but when she sees a story on the news showing what happened, she decides that they need to take a vacation so John can unwind from his time in the military. Stopping for gas on their way to the mountains, John goes inside for some snacks, passing Rome as he is walking out of the gas station. As Rome is filling up his gang’s getaway car, a police car pulls up and one of the officers starts talking with Rome until Morgan, another member of the gang, shoots him and Rome shoots his partner as he tries to back away. Hearing the shots, John tries running back to his car but Bennett hits him with a fire extinguisher, knocking him unconscious. Seeing their car has a flat tire, Rome decides to steal the Triton’s truck, taking Kate as a hostage, while Morgan starts a fire that ends up blowing up the gas station. John manages to survive the blast and seeing the crooks drive off with Kate in his truck, he gets in the police car and follows them, using the radio to inform the police of what happened. When John catches up to the crooks, they begin shooting at him but he keeps following until the crooks stop at a cliff and John ends up driving off the cliff, managing to jump out of his car before the crooks blow it up. With the Triton’s truck out of commission, Rome decides to make their way through the swamp to avoid the police, continuing to take Kate with them. Detective Van Buren arrives at the scene and finds John still alive and warns him not to pursue the crooks but John doesn’t listen and makes his way into the swamp. As the crooks are making there way through the swamp, Morgan and Vescera begin arguing and Rome ends up shooting Vescera, leaving him for the alligators to feed on. As they keep moving, Rome gets a phone call from his silent partner and he ends up telling his partner that he is keeping the diamonds and cutting him out of the deal. John continues tracking the crooks, finding where Vescera was killed and grabbing his knife along the way, when he is captured by a couple of meth dealers. The drug dealers take him back to their hideout but he manages to free himself and take out the two men before continuing after the crooks. Rome spies a lodge nearby and decides to hide there until the police leave the area, then use a boat to make their way to the marina, where he arranges to have a car waiting for them. Morgan is sent to look for a generator to power the place and after he gets it running, he is attacked by John and killed. Rome sends Bennett to get one of the boats running but John kills him as well, then sees Van Buren has caught up with him. As Angela leads Kate outside, the two girls begin fighting while inside, John and Van Buren surprise Rome but Van Buren is revealed to be Rome’s silent partner and points his gun at John. When Van Buren gets distracted while asking Rome about the diamonds, John grabs him as Rome shoots at the both of them, killing Van Buren but John manages to get to cover. Rome leaves the lodge, then shoots the generator, causing an explosion but John manages to jump into the river and survive. Rome and Angela take Kate and drive off in Van Buren’s car, but then ditch it and kill a truck driver for his truck. Meanwhile, a harbor patrol officer spots John and starts to arrest him but John handcuffs him instead then uses his boat to head to the marina. At the marina, Rome is looking for the car that is supposed to be there when Kate, who is handcuffed to a pole in the back, attacks him and causes him to lose control of the truck briefly. In the boat, John sees this and catches up to the truck and jumps onto it, then makes his way to the passenger door, where he grabs Angela and throws her into the path of an oncoming bus. Rome tries knocking John off the truck by crashing into several buildings, finally succeeding but then he is forced to jump out of the truck before it crashes into the river, leaving Kate handcuffed to the sinking truck. John tries to rescue Kate but Rome attacks him and the two end up fighting in a burning warehouse before John finally is able to beat Rome, throwing him into the warehouse as it collapses. John dives into the river and frees Kate, then begins doing CPR until she begins breathing again. The two hug each other when suddenly, Rome appears and tries to strangle John with a length of chain but John manages to loop the chain around Rome’s neck and throw him, then yanks on the chain to break Rome’s neck. John and Kate embrace, with John joking that they should have gone to the beach, as the cops begins arriving at the burning wreckage.
The Marine met with poor reviews from the critics, earning only a 20% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The consensus among the critics is that the movie is “Overblown in every possible way, The Marine is either so bad it’s good or just really, really bad.” The movie was a mild success at the theaters, earning over $32 million off a $15 million budget. When it was released on DVD, it was the number one rented DVD it’s first week and would make over $30 million in DVD sales in 12 weeks, prompting WWE Studios to release 3 direct to video sequels, which also starred wrestlers in the title roles.
Let’s be clear about one thing, this is not a good movie. However, this is an entertaining movie due to how over the top it is. The acting is decent, with Robert Patrick (Rome) and Anthony Ray Parker (Morgan) being my favorites. As much time as he has spent in front of the camera as a wrestler, you would think that John Cena would have done a better job but I think he suffered from rookie movie nerves as he seemed kind of stiff and his acting didn’t feel as natural as some of the others. The story was a pretty typical heist/chase movie and didn’t really offer much in the way of originality, but the pacing did flow pretty well. Then thee was the random bits of humor, such as Bennett making a comment about John being like the Terminator and Rome glaring at him, or Rome talking to his silent partner on the phone while they are in the swamp, then switching lines to take a phone call where he was approved for an upgraded cable package with all of the premium channels and the sports package. The action scenes kind of reminded me of wrestling as it was over the top and entertaining. There is a reason that this movie wasn’t up for any Oscars, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t give it a chance if you are in the mood for a mindless action film.
Rating: 3 out of 5