A Review by Jason L. King
Starring: Ted Dibiase Jr., Michael Rooker
Directed by: Role Riene
Rated: R for intense violence
Movie Released: 2009
When you pick up any movie that is produced by WWE films you instantly know two things. First of all, it is going to be a shameless plug for some WWE wrestler that fans either know and love, or love to hate. Second of all, you are usually going to get a film with a lower than average production value, a musical score filled with hard rock music and instrumental music that feels like an great entrance theme. Beyond knowing that you need to chuck the words high quality out the window, disengage your brain and sit back and try to enjoy a very bumpy ride.
After the theatrical sucess of films like The Marine, The Condemned, 12 Rounds, and See No Evil in theaters, WWE films has also put some of their younger talents in a few direct to DVD action films as well. In 2009 we had the now former WWE grappler Ken Kennedy take the reigns of the Behind Enemy Lines DVD franchise with the 3rd installment, Behind Enemy Lines: Columbia. WWE chairman Vince McMahon, a man who has never seen a dollar bill he didn’t like, decided it was time to capitalize on the success of The Marine, which originally starred WWE star John Cena, by having another one of his wrestling superstars suit up for a action packed sequel.
In this sequel, a young marine named Joe Linwood and his wife head to off for a weekend on an island resort during his week long relief from duty. However, their holiday getaway is ruined when a group of Southeastern Asia separatists crash the resorts opening weekend party, and take hostages. With the local military slow to action, Joe takes matters into his own hands and suits up to take the terrorists down one by one.
If this sounds like your type of action movie, you actually might be right. Just as long as you don’t * think * as you watch it. There are explosions, gun fire and choreographed fight scenes that actually make “The Marine” look worse than WWE superstar Cody Rhodes 5th grade graduation video. The sequel carries and hard R rating, is more violent, more gruesome and doesn’t sport John Cena. Taking the reigns of the film is Ted Dibiase Jr., the son of the legendary Million Dollar Man Ted Dibiase. Dibiase plays Joe Linwood, a tough as nails, pretty boy Marine who will stop at nothing to save his wife from the separatists.
Dibiase, who is still more of an unknown to the acting world outside the WWE universe actually holds his own in this film very well. You find yourself instantly rooting for his character, and while his character is a man of few words, he delivers his lines with ease. In fact, in my opinion, Dibiase actually does a far better job in this film than Cena did in the original. Sure, Cena may have the square jawed, muscle bound, somewhat constipated look of a real hard nosed jarhead, but Dibiase actually plays the role better. Aside from the success of The Rock, few WWE stars have been able to really successfully step out of the wrestling boots and into an acting career, but Dibiase might be able to do so with a few more films under his belt. Hopefully Dibiase’s acting career continues and follows the career path of The Rock, and not someone like Roddy Piper. While Piper was amazing in the film They Live, his acting career never really “took off” afterwards. At this point in his career, it could go either way for the young Dibiase.
Starring alongside Dibiase is Michael “Rowdy Burns” Rooker in a role that really felt like he was just collecting a paycheck. Rooker plays a former army ranger, who is the local jack of all trades that helps Dibiase infiltrate the hostage situation. Each time Rooker appears on screen, you simply expect him to mutter “where’s my paycheck!” instead of his quick little quips and one liners. While many people don’t know Rooker by name, he is one of those faces you’ll instantly recognize. He’s a bit more aged, but he’s still that recognizable face, playing the “important” side character. Unfortunately in this case, Rooker seemed off his game.
Perhaps what makes this film better than its Marine predecessor is the hard R rating the film carried. While the film is violent, and has a very brutal handcuff escape scene, the film makes no apologies for its actions. Unlike The Marine, The Marine 2 doesn’t waste time with muscle bound morons making quips about Deliverance style rock candy, and doesn’t bask in all the uber-cheese that the original did. The Marine 2 carries a more serious tone. It’s the type of high octane action flick that gets to the point quickly, and then spends the rest of the film kicking ass and taking names with out apologizing.
While I must say that I enjoyed the film from start to finish, the film has more than a few loose ends that are never really addressed or even thought about. For some reason, Dibiase infiltrates the terrorist camp wearing a bright blue backpack that is so bright you wonder how the terrorist could NOT see the thing as he runs around. No matter how stealthy you are in the jungle like surroundings, bright blue is not a good camouflage when hiding from trained assassins. None the less, Dibiase’s character somehow pulls it off. The beginning of the film gives us this shoot out scene with the death of a small child involved. This scene never really comes back into play, other than it shows that he was a marine in active duty. I kept waiting for the significance of the child’s death, and it never really came.
In the end, I’m not going to tell you to RUN out of your way and pick up a copy of The Marine 2. However, at the same time I think you shouldn’t always judge a movie by its cover. Sometimes believe it or not, the direct to DVD sequel can be better than the original. The Marine 2 happens to be an example. I dis-engaged my brain and went in wanting to watch stuff blow up and watch one man take down the bad guys Die Hard style. I got just that from The Marine 2. It’s not Shakespeare by any means, but hey for a dvd released action flick you could do far worse. It’s some good old school hard hitting action from start to finish and should be enough to tickle your action flick funny bone. That is at least until you see still nonexistent The Marine 3 starring Evan Bourne: After all if you haven’t seen Evan Bourne in action, prepare you self for a vintage high flying, high octane action treat.