John Cena is The Marine. Though, as matters develop, The Maroon might be a better handle. At any rate, after being discharged for having Disobeyed a Direct Order in Iraq (where, in a scene distinctly reminiscent of the opening of The Naked Gun, our boy shoots up one of those elusive Al-Qaeda training camps that nobody else seems to be able to find). Readjustment to civilian life is difficult, but then, while heading out for a little holiday with his wife (Kelly Carlson), an unfortunate stop at a gas station results in Carlson being abducted by a violent gang of jewel thieves headed up by Robert Patrick (who comes across, as was pointed out to me, like the love child of Martin Sheen and Chandler Bing). Cue the pursuit through the swamps.
So as we’re watching this, my girlfriend turns to me and says that there’s a problem with a movie when the hero could be removed from the picture to little discernible effect. And she’s right. In fact, Cena disappears completely once the action gets going (!!?!), leaving the field for Patrick to camp it up. What role he does play could have, for the most part, easily been filled by one of the alligators we are shown (but who are never seen again). Perhaps Gustave could have been imported from Primeval to take care of business. And while I love a good explosion as much as the next guy, the ones on display here are so over the top (my favourite is the coop car raised into the air on a pillow of fire) that they are hilarious. And trust me, we’re laughing AT the movie and the steroid freaks in it, not with it (or them).
KA-BOOM! If nothing else, the score does its best to match up with the ludicrous grandiosity of the pyrotechnic effects. The volume is ear-splitting once the action begins, and explosions and gunshots roar to deafening effect from all sides of the room. Even the 20th Century Fox logo is blessed with a particularly resonant bass line, and the rest of the score pounds along too.
Ridiculous movie, but it looks great. The colours are brilliant, as are the contrasts. The flesh tones are bang-on, and the blacks are very deep. There is no edge enhancement or grain to contend with, and the image is sharp enough to draw blood. All of this quality serves to highlight the inanity of the movie itself.
Interesting. The featurettes (a four-part set on Cena, a 10-part set done by the WWE to promote the film, the usual making-of piece and footage of the premiere at Camp Pendleton) are multi-tasking propaganda, simultaneously pumping up the film, the WWE and the Marine Corps. Useless piffle all round. There are trailers for this film, and two it wants to be: Commando and Man on Fire.
Just idiotic enough to be passably entertaining at that level. But not on any level it intends.