Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Marine (2006)(Spoiler Review)

**This review contains spoilers**

During a mission in Iraq, a Marine Sergeant named John Triton (John Cena) disobeys a direct order to save a kidnapped comrade from a brutal execution. Triton rescues the Marine, but he receives an honorable discharge from his Colonel after the mission.

At home, John is having trouble adjusting to the real world. John takes a job as a security guard at an office building, but John’s temper gets the best of him one day. John throws a disgruntled and bitter ex-boyfriend through a window on the lobby, and John is fired for his actions. John’s wife, Kate (Kelly Carlson) suggests a road trip to help John relax and forget about any problems from real life for a while, and John agrees.

John and Kate stop at a gas station to refuel. Here, the happy married couple are forced to deal with a gang of deadly jewel thieves. During a tense conversation, Rome (Robert Patrick), the leader and the mastermind of the group, tries to come up with an excuse to get rid of a suspicious police officer.

The crew includes Morgan (Anthony Ray Parker), Bennett (Manu Bennett), Vescera (Damon Gibson), and Rome’s girlfriend/sidekick, Angela (Abigail Bianca), and they’re closely watching the conversation between Rome and the police officer, waiting for the right moment to make their next move. Morgan panics at the sight of law enforcement, so he shoots and kills the officer, who’s talking to Rome. The crew kidnaps Kate for collateral, and John is knocked out by a fire extinguisher to the back of the head before he has a chance to save Kate.

Rome leads the crew through a swamp with Kate as their hostage. Rome tries to figure out a plan for stolen diamonds from a recent heist, but John refuses to give up on the rescue mission for Kate. John receives the green light to pursue Rome and his crew from a detective named Van Buren (Jerome Ehlers), and he won’t stop until Kate is safe. John is determined to tear through every member of Rome’s crew one by one, but an unexpected revelation from an unlikely traitor could jeopardize John’s rescue mission……..

Kudos to John Cena for a strong effort in the leading role. John Triton is an ass-kicking machine, who won’t quit in The Marine, and John Cena is a capable leading man. Some will say Cena is too robotic in the leading role, but Triton is a man with a three step process: Hunt, fight, and destroy. That’s it. Cena has the build and look of a tough guy, so the Triton character is a perfect fit for him, because you’re not asking Cena to go above and beyond with a versatile performance. And if you’re familiar with his WWE career, you should know Cena’s character is known for overcoming insurmountable odds and heroic comebacks.

Robert Patrick delivers a solid performance, but the Rome character is too bland. Basically, Patrick’s character is limited to spitting out a few lines of devilish and witty dialogue every now and then, but we’re  SUPPOSED to believe he’s this cerebral bad guy? Kelly Carlson is a cute face, who screams for help a lot, while kicking and fighting the bad guys during a handful of failed escape attempts, and that’s it.

The members of Rome’s crew are generic goons for the most part. Abigail Bianca’s Angela is supposed to be this lethal psycho with a mean streak, but when it’s all said and done, Bianca is just eye candy. And there’s no other way to say this, but Anthony Ray Parker’s Morgan is a paranoid “black man,” who feels the need to pull the race card every five minutes. There’s a good chance you won’t have any middle ground for this character. Parker’s shtick might pull a few cheap laughs out of you, or his routine will reach a “too annoying” point after ten minutes.

The lone twist in The Marine is a real head-scratcher. Remember Detective Van Buren? Apparently he’s in cahoots with Rome and his crew, and he used John to lead him to Rome’s hideout (some old broken down lodge in the swamp). Here, it’s revealed Van Buren is the mysterious partner, who spoke with Rome on the phone throughout the movie. Van Buren holds a gun to John’s head, and he demands his “cut” from the diamond heist, but Rome turns the tables on Van Buren. Rome shoots Van Buren to death, and Rome escapes (again) with Kate and Angela, leaving John alone.

But it’s not over yet! John turns the tables on an arresting officer, and he steals his boat. Eventually, John catches up to Rome and Angela at a marina. John kills Angela (finishing off the remainder of Rome’s crew) by throwing her out of a speeding truck with Rome as the driver.

Rome steers the speeding truck (with a handcuffed Kate inside) into the water, so now John is free to slug it out with Rome one on one. John wins the fight, when a pile of flaming debris crushes Rome, and John rescues Kate from the truck. John gives Kate CPR, but a charred Rome returns to finish what he started. But a resourceful John uses a chain to choke out and kill Rome.

The Van Buren twist? Yes, it’s a surprise, because I can honestly say I didn’t see it coming, but the “dirty cop” twist is so clich├ęd, so there’s no real shock factor to Van Buren as a bad guy here. The big showdown between Rome and Triton is kind of underwhelming for a few reasons. First, Triton’s duels with Rome’s henchmen (i.e. the fight with Morgan at the lodge) were more entertaining, and it’s not even close, so Triton’s previous bouts undermine the big finale.

And to add insult to injury, Rome’s demise is tamed, when you compare his death to the deaths of the other bad guys in the film. Vescera’s body is devoured by alligators, and moments before the fight with Rome, you’ll see Angela thrown out of a speeding truck, and she flies into the windshield of a bus. That’s a shocking death. Sorry, but Rome is the primary antagonist, so he’s supposed to suffer the most brutal death.

The Marine is a mindless fun action flick, if you don’t over-think the story. If you analyze The Marine step by step, you’ll probably hate this film with a burning, white hot passion. You’ll wonder why a detective would trust and allow a civilian to track down murderous jewel thieves. You’ll question the competence of a cop, who can’t arrest an unarmed man, and there’s no way you’ll buy into Triton’s miraculous escapes from big explosions.

For me, The Marine is a fun film for action junkies. Yeah, the final battle is underwhelming, and it’s hard to ignore the “been there, done that” twist. But The Marine delivers enough hard-hitting fight sequences, and over the top thrills for me to look the other way. On top of that, the one hour and thirty-three minutes runtime feels like a breeze, because The Marine maintains a hectic fast pace. The Marine receives a lot of hate as a preposterous mess, but I’m going with a bare minimum guilty pleasure pass for this one.

Rating: 5/10

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