Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tuesday's Overlooked Movies: The Marine

This post originally appeared in slightly different form on September 5, 2007.

So you’ve got this big, tough Marine, John Triton, who gets thrown out of the service because he disobeyed orders and singlehandedly saved several other Marines who had been captured by the enemy in Iraq. Triton comes back to his beautiful wife in the United States and has a predictably hard time fitting into civilian life.

At the same time there’s this ruthless gang of professional jewel thieves who are on the run after pulling a big robbery. You know they’re going to cross paths with Triton sooner or later, and when they do . . . well, the story could go one of two different ways. Either it becomes a taut little noir thriller, or it turns into a noisy action/adventure film with lots of running and fighting and shooting and things Blowing Up Real Good.

Since THE MARINE is the first starring vehicle for WWE performer John Cena, who’s attempting to follow in The Rock’s footsteps and become an action movie star, you can probably guess which path this story follows.

That said, THE MARINE is very entertaining and well-written. There’s a thread of dry humor that runs all through the film, resulting in lines like the one delivered by the great character actor Robert Patrick, playing the leader of the bad guys, who orders everyone not to look at him during the big robbery early in the film: “I have intimacy issues . . . and a gun.” By the time John Triton leaps toward the camera with some huge explosion going off right behind him for the third or fourth time, you get the idea that the filmmakers aren’t taking any of this too seriously and neither should we. It’s just a goofy, over-the-top action movie, but a slyly intelligent one at the same time.

Not surprisingly, John Cena has an impressive physical presence, and while the script doesn’t call for him to do much more than run and jump and fight, he handles the few quieter moments pretty well, too. Dwayne Johnson -- The Rock -- was a decent actor right from the start, and Cena may prove to be, too. I liked THE MARINE quite a bit and recommend it to those who like action/adventure films.

UPDATE: John Cena hasn't really lived up to the potential I saw in him in this film, at least not as an action movie star, although he's still a big name in wrestling. But I thought his follow-up to this film was even better, and I think I'm going to rerun my post about it next week.

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