Resemblance to Damon only thing going for ‘The Marine’

Reeling It In

Posted: Thursday, October 19, 2006


  "The Marine" 1 hour, 33 minutes 20th Century Fox, WWE Films AP Photo/20th Century Fox

"The Marine"

1 hour, 33 minutes

20th Century Fox, WWE Films

AP Photo/20th Century Fox

I was trying to decide between the two stellar films that were released this weekend, so I asked my wife.

“Do you want to go see ‘The Marine’ or ‘The Grudge 2?’

“Neither,” came the answer. So I asked a friend of mine who I had promised to take to the movies.

“What are they about?” she wondered.

“Well, ‘The Marine’ is about a Marine, and ‘The Grudge 2’ is a sequel of a movie about a couple of ghosts who have ... a grudge.”

“Hmmm. ‘The Grudge’ sounds scary.”

“I doubt it,” I said.

“Why can’t we go see the one with Matt Damon?”

“Matt Damon is in ‘The Departed’ — I went to that last week. It’s either the cranky ghosts or the cranky Marine.”

“Wasn’t there some Robin Williams movie?”

“We didn’t get it. ‘Marine’ or ‘Grudge.’ These are your choices.”

“Well, ‘The Marine’ kind of looks like Matt Damon ... let’s go to that one.”

And that, in a nutshell, is how I ended up at what was quite possibly the worst movie I’ve seen all year.

John Cena is John Triton, a kick-butt Marine who, after disobeying orders and decimating a roomful of highly armed terrorists in order to save his buddies from the sword, is discharged from the service, leaving this almost grotesquely muscled behemoth to try to find regular work in the real world. Think Mr. Incredible without the acting chops.

After Triton is fired from his first day on the job as a security guard, he and his perky blond wife decide to “just get out of here. It doesn’t matter where we go, as long as we’re together.” Gag. What the happy couple fails to realize is that they are about to cross paths with a group of criminals that are as obnoxiously inept as our hero is built. Shooting everything and everybody in sight, the gang robs a diamond shop, double-crosses the buyer, and makes a run for it. Along the way they end up with the perky wife as a hostage and all hell breaks loose. The last person you want on your tail is a ticked off Marine — especially when you’ve nicked his gal pal. You know where this is going. Lots of “why won’t this guy die?!?” exclamations, and lots of big, noisy explosions. Par for the course, but what can you expect from a movie produced by the WWE?

Yep. That’s right. John Cena hails from the world of professional wrestling, where he goes by the name, among others, of the Dr. of Thuganomics. Now, I have to admit, being a wrestler doesn’t necessarily preclude acting ability — look at the Rock. He’s not half bad. But throughout the film, Cena looks as if he’s just barely hanging on. You could almost hear him thinking, “Marine. Must be Marine.”

The director’s not much better. Judging from “The Marine,” it’s no surprise to learn that this is John Bonita’s first gig, not counting, of course, the few episodes of “Extreme Championship Wrestling” he helmed. In a movie where action is absolutely the only draw, it’s a shame the staging of said action is so poorly done. There are so many quick cuts and zooming camera movement that it’s impossible to tell what’s going on. It’s enough to give you a headache. Luckily, Triton dispatches the bad guys pretty quick, letting the audience out in an easy 93 minutes.

It wasn’t quick enough to keep me from lamenting the sad career slide that Robert Patrick is experiencing. He’s never been A-list, but since he played one of the greatest villains of all time, namely the T-1000 in “Terminator 2” he’s worked steadily — appearing in everything from “Wayne’s World” to “Walk the Line” and the upcoming Clint Eastwood flick, “Flags of our Fathers.” He’s been in some bad movies, but usually his performance is OK, regardless of the movie. Not so, here. In “The Marine,” Patrick stinks it up with the rest of ‘em.

Unintentionally hilarious dialogue, terrible camera work and some of the worst acting I’ve seen in a long time results in what has been a pretty typical outing this year. Movies like “The Marine” are certainly not few, but they must be proud, because Hollywood keeps cranking them out. Grade: D-

“The Marine” is rated PG-13 for language and violence.

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