Film review: 'The Marine'

David Hiltbrand
The Philadelphia Inquirer

The action-hero deficit has grown so desperate in Hollywood over the last decade that they're now drafting guys directly out of professional wrestling. Ah well, anything is better than Nicolas Cage in a muscle shirt, right?

At least "The Marine" is executive-produced by Vince McMahon, the seal of excellence.

WWE grappler John Cena follows The Rock onto the big screen as the title character, John Triton, a Semper Fi-guided missile who gets drummed out of the Marines because (oh, injustice!), he acted singlehandedly to save three fellow warriors from a small army of barbaric al-Qaida terrorists.

Back in the States, just as he's setting out to start a new life with his wife Kate (Kelly Carlson), she is taken hostage by a vicious gang of diamond thieves, lead by the glib, reptilian Rome (Robert Patrick of TV's "The Unit").

That tears it.

Triton has already had the thing he loves the most - the Corps - taken from him; he's not going to lose his wife, too. There follows a long relentless pursuit, as all concerned hump it through the scrub swamp of coastal South Carolina (actually it`s Australia).

Director John Bonito does a decent job with this formulaic premise. Unfortunately, he's not too good at filming hand-to-hand combat. But Bonito's positively a genius at big explosions, which is good because in the course of "The Marine," he blows up everything but McMahon's trailer. This is more a pyrotechnics display than it is a movie.

The script makes some appealing, if off-target, attempts at levity.

At least during the slow patches, you can amuse yourself by playing separated-at-birth with the cast. Cena, for instance, looks like a steroid-stoked Matt Damon. Rome's trigger-happy henchmen Morgan (Anthony Ray Parker) could double for NBA star Alonzo Mourning. And the gang's wheelman Frank (Frank Carlopio) looks like Yankee catcher Jorge Posada's skinny twin.

Patrick certainly makes for a cool villain in this, his best role since "Terminator 2: Judgment Day." And Cena as an action hero? He wisely takes an understated approach in his first outing, which makes his lack of acting skill less obvious.

But the guy is so musclebound that when a cop tells him to place his hands behind his head, Cena can't even get close. So, at least he looks the part, which in a cinematic cage-match like this is 80 percent of the battle.



2 stars

Directed by John Bonito, with John Cena, Robert Patrick, Kelly Carlson, Anthony Ray Parker. Rated PG-13 (profanity, violence). Running time: 1 hour, 33 mins.





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