Thursday, 29 November 2007

The Marine

The Marine (2006)

Directed by: John Bonito
Screenplay: Michelle Gallagher & Alan B. McElroy
Starring: John Cena, Kelly Carlson and Robert Patrick

Sometimes it’s the simplicity of action movies that makes them so entertaining. Their complete disregard for logic, physics and character for the sheer abandonment of adrenaline and pyrotechnics: fun times for the sake of fun times. And by this notion, The Marine is pretty simple. Dude’s wife gets kidnapped by trigger happy bad guy and his goons. Dude is an ex-marine, who gives pursuit and blows up everything and everyone in sight, in his path and in this movie. If you’ve seen Schwarzenegger’s Commando, then you’ve seen The Marine. Both films follow almost identical plots and while Commando has the edge in all round kick ass value, The Marine is still quality, explosion heavy entertainment.

Lean and mean at a scant 80mins, The Marine jettisons all set-up, character development and downtime for a series of over the top action scenes as our hero demolishes his way through the swamp and cast in order to get his wife back. John Cena (a pro wrestler making his movie debut) plays John Triton, the titular marine, who spends all of five minutes actually being a marine before being quickly discharged. Following a diamond robbery, a couple of funny scenes seeing our hero trying to adjust to civilian life, and the introduction of the gun toting bad guys, it’s down to business as the movie switches into the familiar chase/hunt element. Cena isn’t bad in his first role and actually comes across as quite human rather than just a killing machine, while Kelly Carlson (Nip/Tuck) adds a little more spark to the obligatory damsel in distress role. The bad guys are a pretty entertaining bunch with T2’s Robert Patrick stealing the show as the completely off his head, Rome. He seems to be having a ball.

The flick is as slick as they come and jam packed with action. While momentum is always kept up, the running time is perhaps just a little too scant. Things, characters and set ups whiz by so quickly sometimes, you wonder what has just happened and who the hell that was. There is a great bit where our hero gets sequestered by two mad-as-a-hatter rednecks and must use his brawn to whoop their asses. The whole scene lasts all of a minute and a half and is cut so quickly, you wonder what was the point of introducing those characters and that scene in the first place. Likewise, with the opening sequence set in Iraq. Triton goes in to rescue a bunch of other marines and machine guns down everyone that isn’t American. What could have been an exciting, extended set piece is all over in a matter of flashes and I’m still trying to figure out what went on and how they got out. And that’s the movie’s downfall: the action is just cut too quickly and apart from the awesome (and yes, very over the top) car chase feels rushed. Let the action scenes breath, let them play out and let us see what our hero is actually doing to thwart all these bad guys.

Still, The Marine is slick entertainment that is nothing more than a series of brawn and booms. If you can get past the mind numbingly awful, over patriotic opening scenes then The Marine is a fun ride that harkens back the days of Arnie and Sly, where to get the job done all you had to do was blow everything up. If The Marine gets one thing right, it’s blowing stuff up and that really is the first and foremost thing you need to get right in an action movie.

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