The Marine [DVD]
Director : John Bonito
Screenplay : Michell Gallagher and Alan B. McElroy (story by Michell Gallagher)
MPAA Rating : PG-13
Year of Release : 2006
Stars : John Cena (John Triton), Robert Patrick (Rome), Kelly Carlson (Kate Triton), Anthony Ray Parker (Morgan), Abigail Bianca (Angela), Jerome Ehlers (Van Buren), Manu Bennett (Bennett), Damon Gibson (Vescera), Drew Powell (Joe), Frank Carlopio (Frank)
The Marine is a two-decade throwback, one of those off-handed, low-budget action movies that popped up with regularity at the box office throughout the 1980s bearing names above the title like Chuck Norris, Steven Seagal, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Dolph Lundgren, Charles Bronson, and, of course, Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger (lesser variation bore such now forgotten names as Michael Dudikoff and Steve James and were invariably released by the now-defunct distributor Cannon). Such movies are still made today, but they usually go straight to video, which makes it all the more peculiar that The Marine, with its bad special effects, simple-to-the-point-of-nonexistent plotline, and hammy mix of violence and humor somehow made it to theaters, however briefly.
The bulging mass of muscles at the center of the The Marine is WWE superstar John Cena, who looks a bit like Matt Damon pumped up with 1,000 CC’s of steroids. Thankfully, not much is required of him except a few slight variations of a singular stern look that stands in for concern, anger, and pain--the basic line-up of emotions that action heroes have to endure. He does soften a bit during the required romantic moments with his on-screen wife, Kate (Kelly Calson), but even then he seems like he’s straining a bit from the effort.
The Marine opens in Iraq, which gives it the dubious distinction of being one of the first Hollywood movies to depict U.S. military involvement there since the 2003 invasion. We get a quick dose of action as Cena’s Sgt. John Triton disobeys orders and takes out some generic Al Quaeda bad guys who are torturing a pair of captured Marines. (The manner in which Cena’s face is painted in vertically striped camouflage immediately brings to mind the 1985 Schwarzenegger vehicle Commando, a movie The Marine is clearly trying to ape with its combination of guiltless mayhem and off-the-cuff comedy.) This early scene in Iraq establishes Triton as both an unmitigated badass and a rebel who isn’t about to let orders get in the way of his doing some good (not to mention the filmmakers’ willingness to exploit current real-life military turmoil for brainless action spectacle). For his troubles Triton is discharged from the Marines, which causes something of an identity crisis because he doesn’t know anything else (a fun drinking game would be to watch this movie and take a shot every time Triton says “I’m a Marine”).
Of course, the movie is in no way interested in the actual ramifications of a career military man’s summary dismissal from his beloved Corps, so it immediately moves on to Act Two in which Triton’s action services are required when Kate is kidnapped by a jewel-heist gang led by the psychotic, yet vaguely amusing Rome (Robert Patrick). Triton isn’t about to sit back and let the authorities handle things (there’s that rebel streak again ...), so he sets off in pursuit of the criminal gang. This results in a few breakneck car chases, a lot of slogging through various South Carolina swamps (although the entire film was shot in Australia), and eventual mano-a-mano fisticuffs in a burning warehouse. It’s all so de rigueur that it’s hard to think of the movie in an individual sense; rather, it is just one smoking piece of evidence proving how generic and bankrupt the entire action genre can be.
The Marine is not a total loss, as there is some fun to be had if you look for it. Screenwriters Michell Gallagher and Alan McElroy recognize the inherent silliness of their paint-by-numbers enterprise, and they throw in a few groan-inducing one-liners and double takes just to remind us (the best is when one of Rome’s gang members refers to Triton as being like the Terminator, which gets an immediate reaction from Patrick, whose days as the unstoppable T-1000 now seem so very long ago). The humor comes up a bit short when it delves into racial gags, though, including a scene in which a black member of the gang is indignant when presented with a minivan as a getaway car. When he declares more than once that “Brothers don’t drive mini-vans,” all you can think is that he should be worrying less about the van and more about the lame action-movie vehicle in which he’s stuck.
|The Marine DVD|
|The Marine DVD contains both the original theatrical cut and an unrated version of the film on one disc.|
|Distributor||20th Century Fox|
|Release Date||February 6, 2007|
|VIDEO & AUDIO|
|The anamorphic widescreen transfer of The Marine is as bright and crisp as one would expect a recent movie to be. In some ways, the transfer may be a little too sharp, as the digital effects are quite obvious, especially when explosions are involved. The Dolby Digital 5.1 surround soundtrack will give your system an appropriate workout. There is plenty of action in the surround channels in terms of both music and sound effects, and the low end reaches plenty deep when things go “boom.”|
|The back of the DVD box proclaims that it has “an arsenal of special features,” and while there are quite a few, they lack any real firepower. “Declassified: The Making of The Marine” is a routine 12-minute behind-the-scenes look at the film’s production, the high point of which is Cena describing director John Bonito’s ’do as “the original Teen Wolf-Michael Jackson haircut that sometimes looks like Liza Minnelli” (for the record, he’s pretty much dead on). “World Premier at Camp Pendelton” is a brief 3-minute featurette about the film’s premiere, which allowed for an odd mixture of actual Marines and WWE superstars. The remaining featurettes are lumped into two groups. “John Cena Features” include four featurettes that together run about 15 minutes and tell the story of how Cena became a wrestling star (apparently, Wrestlemania is the “pinnacle of sports entertainment”), his experiences making The Marine, and his travels in Iraq to visit U.S. troops. “WWE Promotional Features” includes another 10 featurettes (totaling 15 minutes) about the film’s production that originally aired during WWE programs to promote the film. The original theatrical trailer is also included.|
Copyright ©2007 James Kendrick
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