The Few. The Proud. The Judge Patrick Bromley.
He's back home from war. But the battle has just begun.
WWE studios continues to try and turn their wrestlers into action stars courtesy of their The Marine franchise, now in its third installment. Will Mike "The Miz" Mizanin be the next John Cena? Or is he more of a Ted DiBiase Jr.?
Facts of the Case
After a covert mission in Central America, Marine Corps Sgt. Jake Carter (WWE superstar Mike "The Miz" Mizanin) returns home to his small town and reunites with his two sisters. When his sister Lily (Ashley Bell, The Last Exorcism) is kidnapped by American terrorist Jonas Pope (Neal McDonough, Captain America: The First Avenger), Jake must go back into action and save his sister—not to mention put a stop to a planned terrorist attack.
WWE Studios has been trying to get in the action movie game for a while. The original The Marine, released in 2006 and starring WWE superstar John Cena, actually received theatrical release and proved to be a kind-of-silly, kind-of-stupid but altogether enjoyable throwback to '80s-style action. Never one to let a good thing go, WWE cranked out a direct to video sequel, The Marine 2, in 2009, this time replacing Cena with WWE wrestler Ted DiBiasi Jr. From the budget cutbacks to the problematic story to, most of all, the lead performance by DiBiase (who makes John Cena look like Jason Statham), the movie was deadly dull and probably should have killed the franchise. Nope! This is the WWE. Don't ever rule out a comeback.
So now we get The Marine 3: Homefront, which returns the action back to the U.S. (after a detour to Thailand in The Marine 2) and tries to launch an action career for a third WWE wrestler. Why the "studio" is so insistent on franchising The Marine instead of just creating a new movie—each sequel has no continuity and nothing to do with the movies that came before—is difficult to comprehend. Perhaps the hope is that non-wrestling fans (who are likely to check these movies out no matter what) will be drawn in by a title they recognize. Regardless of the quality of the film—more on that in a minute—the big story of The Marine 3 is the emergence of Mike "The Miz" Mizanin as a new action hero. I know nothing about him as a wrestler (I'm more aware of him from his days as a cast member on The Real World), but I can say that he's got the goods as an action star—at least, I think. The big problem with The Marine 3 is that Mizanin isn't in the movie very much. He's set up in the beginning and shows a relaxed charisma. I liked watching him. It's too bad, then, that he disappears for most of the middle section while Neal McDonough and his henchmen can kidnap Mizanin's sister and hang out on a dilapidated ferry for close to an hour. Mizanin comes back for the finale and finally gets to be a man of action, which he sells pretty well. It's rarely surprising when a wrestler does a good job with physicality in a movie; the true test is whether or not he or she can hold the screen in the dialogue scenes. In this, Mizanin fares well.
After a promising start, The Marine 3 grows more and more disappointing by the minute. Sending the main character on a hunt to rescue his sister is fine, but it would help to establish a relationship between the two first. The film sets up an interesting dynamic, with Mizanin returning home after his time in the service and trying to readjust for civilian life (at least, I think; he seems to be home for roughly the span of an afternoon before things go bad), but it's abandoned as quickly as it's introduced. Neal McDonough has played more than his share of colorful villains, from the remake of Walking Tall (starring The Rock, making this the second time McDonough has played opposite a professional wrestler) to Desperate Housewives to his excellent turn on Season Three of Justified. He's an autopilot here, not given a character to play or even a motivation for his actions. He's the bad guy because he's Neal McDonough. He's not even given the opportunity to square off against Mizanin, because, again, the structure of the movie is such that they don't even come fact to face until the final few minutes. One of the biggest problems, though, is just how small The Marine 3 feels. The majority of the movie takes place on a single run-down ferry; when not actually on the boat, the action happens around the boat. There are episodic TV shows with more scope and ambition than this.
The good news is that The Marine 3: Homefront looks fantastic in high def. Fox's 1080p transfer had a pretty easy job, seeing as the movie was shot digitally, but does a great job with fine detail and contrast—every bead of sweat, speck of dirt and facial stubble can be made out. Colors run a little hot at times, but that's probably more a function of the photography than the transfer; there's a Burn Notice-style cheapness that creeps in from time to time, but the Blu-ray brings out the best in the visuals. The 5.1 DTS-HD audio track is pretty standard for an action movie, carrying some weight during the gunfights/explosions and balancing the heavier beats with the dialogue. It's hardly reference material, especially for this genre, but it gets the job done.
The collection of supplements that have been included are geared pretty much entirely to wrestling fans—or, more specifically, to fans of "The Miz." There three short featurettes about the wrestler star, all pretty much promotional in nature: "The Miz Rocks the Boat," "The Miz Diclassified" and "The Miz Journal." A fourth featurette, "Casting Call," profiles a walk-on role that was won through a WWE contest. The last featurette, "Shipwrecked," is all about the stupid boat that's featured too much in the movie. In case you're still not convinced of that fact, consider the fact that there are three featurettes about the star and two about the boat. A standard DVD copy is also included.
The Marine 3: Homefront is another bland and generic DTV action movie from a studio that's becoming known for that kind of thing. It's too bad, because it seems like Mike Mizanin has the goods. The movie makes it hard to tell. I'm sure there will be another Marine movie in a year or two, most likely starring the "hot" wrestler of the day, but hopefully WWE starts to figure out what they're doing wrong. It's not enough to just stick a wrestler in a movie; if that movie's no good, the wrestler won't get a second chance. You're not creating stars. You're not even creating franchises. You're just filling space on the shelf.
Hit and miss, but mostly miss.
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