The Marine was one of the first films to be solely produced by WWE Studios, (after See No Evil), and it features one of the WWE’s biggest stars: John Cena. In an effort to cash-in on Cena’s popularity, they decided to have him attempt to act in a loud, obnoxious, silly action film. The result is likely just about what you’d expect.
Cena plays John Triton, a Marine, who begins the film on a mission. Ignoring a direct order to hold back, Triton rushes head-first into a combat zone, and frees prisoners who were about to be executed. His reward is a swift discharge from the Marine Corps. Not being able to cope with his home-life, he and his wife (Kelly Carlson) decide to pack their things and leave. Where do they want to go? It doesn’t matter.
His wife is quickly captured while John is inside of a gas station. She waits in the car, and as criminals pull up, led by a man named Rome (Robert Patrick), a police car also pulls up. The criminals feel threatened, and they disable the officers inside, and steal John’s girl. They also blow up the gas station for good measure, but John manages to survive the explosion and begin chasing them.
This is what the rest of the film consists of: explosions and chase sequences. John is now a man on a mission, as he loves his wife, and will stop at nothing to rescue her. He survives countless encounters with the criminals, and doesn’t sustain any serious damage at any point of the film. This ends up being one of the film’s many problems.
Action films don’t exactly have a history of being anywhere close to realistic, and The Marine is no exception. One of the things that separates, say, Die Hard, from The Marine, is the way their heroes actually feel the effects of the action scenes they are in. If John McClane is thrown to the ground, or punched in the face, he feels is. Conversely, John Triton doesn’t seem to feel anything. Even an explosion, set off almost directly beside him, doesn’t faze him. He’s seemingly impervious to any real damage, and it makes it really hard to make it empathize with him.
The other problem the film has is in its hand-to-hand combat scenes. They use a fast-cut type of editing, meaning that with every punch, the camera shifts or shakes. You don’t get to see much of the actual fisticuffs, and this seems odd for a film starring a professional wrestler. If there’s one thing Cena should be able to do–as he certainly isn’t a good actor–it should be that he can fight, or at least fake it. He’s used to throwing punches at people, and this type of editing is completely unnecessary, unless of course the fight scenes looked terrible without it.
If nothing else, at least The Marine can say it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Or, at least, its secondary cast doesn’t. John Cena thinks this is the most serious project ever made, and is determined to keep a serious face throughout the film. The other actors, the ones who are actually film actors, all seemed to know what the film was–a joke made to quickly make money off John Cena’s success.
Even the dialogue of the film makes it seem like it is trying to be as silly as possible. In the opening scene, after Cena rescues a trapped soldier, they come across a group of terrorists. The soldier asks John how they are going to get around the terrorists. John replies with the incredibly predictable and cheesy, “We don’t. We go through them.” There are many more moments in the film like this, where, even if you haven’t seen the film, you will be able to predict the next line of dialogue. It’s like it was all written as quickly as possible, with the writers attempting to see how many hilarious lines they could get away with.
Unfortunately, The Marine doesn’t quite venture into the “so bad it’s good” territory. That was the only hope it had at being a watchable film, and it didn’t quite make it that far. It comes close, and seemingly made a valiant effort, but it just wasn’t quite bad enough to be a riot while watching it. You can’t laugh at all of it, largely because of how serious Cena plays his role, and it loses a lot of its potential fun at this point.
For a film that’s sole purpose was to give wrestling fans a 90 minute film of John Cena blowing things up, I suppose that The Marine served its purpose. As a film taken out of that context, it is quite bad. The plot is simplified, the acting is poor and the action scenes are not all that well-made. It’s not a bad enough film to provide constant laughter, but it’s also not entertaining enough for non-WWE fans to get enjoyment out of it. Hardcore John Cena fans are the target audience, and they’re also the only ones that are likely to get entertainment from The Marine. And even then, I’m not so sure.