Immediately after writing this review, Appellate Judge Dan Mancini dove through a plateglass window and ran down the street in slow motion as a cop car exploded in a massive fireball behind him. It was awesome.
The year's most explosive film is now the ultimate unrated DVD!
Sergeant John Triton (professional wrestler John Cena) is the sort of über-Marine who, in violation of a direct order and foregoing backup from Delta team, barges in on nine al Queda operatives about to behead three American GIs, and wreaks havoc with a gigantic automatic weapon clutched in an even more gigantic fist. He is, in the words of his commanding officer, "one of the best." Unfortunately, top brass and the Judge Advocate General don't cotton to Triton's gung-ho style. Back at Marine Corps Special Operations Command in Stuttgart, Germany, he learns he's been discharged. It's a tough break for Triton, who returns to the states, a job as a security guard, and his hot wife Kate (Kelly Carlson, Nip/Tuck).
Meanwhile, a sociopath named Rome (Robert Patrick, Terminator 2: Judgment Day) and his gang of thugs pull a diamond heist in the most conspicuous way possible—people are shot (including two police officers), a cop car explodes in a 20-foot ball of flame, and Rome and his gang wield massive guns on city streets in broad daylight. After the job, Rome retires to his apartment and hot girlfriend Angela (Abigail Bianca, Hell Has Harbor Views) before hitting the road to escape the cops.
Later, through an unlikely series of events involving a gas station in the middle of nowhere, a couple more shot cops, an explosion that makes the one at the jewel heist look like small potatoes, and a little slow-motion running for good measure, Rome and his gang take Kate hostage. A five-minute car chase that includes approximately 1,500 discharged automatic and semi-automatic rounds and ends in a flaming cop car twirling in slow motion over the edge of a ravine ensues. After the chase, the bad guys believe Triton is dead. Not only are they incorrect, they're about to find out that of all the wives in America they could possibly have kidnapped, boy, did they pick the wrong one. It's particularly bad news that their flight from the authorities leads them to a swampy backwoods area—not a place you want to be when a pissed-off, über-Marine is after your ass.
Given the fact that The Marine is presented by Twentieth Century Fox "in association with WWE Films," and that World Wrestling Entertainment, Inc. grand poobah and chief braggadocio Vince McMahon is an executive producer on the flick, I wasn't expecting much as I popped the platter in my DVD player. I was pleasantly surprised. Don't get me wrong, The Marine isn't a great picture. Heck, it's not even a good picture. In fact, it's mostly stupid. But if you miss the halcyon days of '80s action pictures, it may be right up your alley. Remember when Schwarzenegger, Stalone, and Norris used to make unsophisticated movies about musclemen taking extravagant revenge on bad guys (who were, more often than not, enemies of the United States)? The Marine is that kind of movie—unapologetically so. But don't misunderstand me. It isn't a movie in the mold of top-notch entries in the oeuvres of the aforementioned action heroes of old. It's not First Blood or The Terminator. It's a knock-off of mediocre Stalone/Schwarzenegger/Norris flicks like Rambo III, Commando, or Missing in Action. It drips testosterone and oozes knuckleheaded machismo. It posits that the greatest evil in the world is skinny smart guys like Robert Patrick who use their brains for mischief. Brains—pffft.
If you're going to make a rehashed '80s action flick in 2006, John Cena is a good choice of hero. With squared jaw, crewcut, and biceps about twice the size of an average man's quads, he's more than vaguely Schwarzenegger-esque. But this nouveau-Ahnold speaks unaccented English, and proves himself a halfway decent action-flick actor (though with only a tiny fraction of the Governator's screen presence). John Triton isn't exactly Hamlet, but Cena handles what little range and depth there is competently. In other words, his line delivery isn't wooden, and he manages a variety of facial expressions. The fact that his day job involves hurling himself and other beefy men around a wrestling ring proves a major asset to the action sequences. When Triton needs to do some ass-kicking, Cena looks athletic and entirely convincing.
The DVD's image is extremely smooth. Colors are mostly natural, though the many explosions are so vivid they betray digital tomfoolery in the f/x department. There's a little bit of edge enhancement haloing, but not so much that it'll bug you if you're not looking for it. The audio track has plenty of thump (how could it not with stuff blowing up every 15 minutes?). It's not particularly immersive, though. Front and rear soundstages are put to use, but there's not much in the way of directional panning. Effects and dialogue are crisp, clean, properly mixed, and loud, but not as dynamic as they could be. It's a good track, just not great.
The disc offers both the theatrical cut of the picture (rated PG-13) and an unrated edition via seamless branching. There's not much difference between the two. The running times literally vary by seconds, not minutes. The picture's many explosion are reedited and expanded slightly with the inclusion of some alternate angles in the unrated cut. I didn't pick up on any other changes. There isn't added character development, that's for sure.
In addition to the two versions of the feature (sort of), the disc offers promotional featurettes about the making of film and its premiere at Camp Pendleton, as well as a handful of pieces on John Cena's career as a wrestler and his involvement in the film. There's also a promo reel to pimp the WWE, and trailers for The Marine, Commando, and Man on Fire.
I could've penned a thousand words ripping on The Marine for everything that it's not, but what's the point? The movie is what it is: a dumb, escapist action flick. It's not the best of the genre, but it's certainly not the worst. If you're into dumb, escapist action flicks, you'll like it. Depending on one's taste, The Marine is either a guilty pleasure or just plain guilty.
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