Marine, The (UK - BD RB)
With Blu-ray, Scott McKenzie discovers that it is actually possible to polish a turd
WWE superstar John Cena is John Triton, a US marine who is discharged from his unit when he disobeys orders and kicks far too much ass for his superiors’ liking. He struggles to adapt to civilian life, not even managing to hold down a security job for a day. John and his wife Kate decide to drive away into the country for no apparent reason and run into diamond thief Rome (Robert Patrick) and his trigger-happy henchmen, who are on the run from the cops. When his wife is kidnapped, there's only one man who can stop the bad guys...
You’ve probably detected from my tone in the paragraph above that I wasn’t too keen on this movie. Before I really get going, I’d like to point out that while I’m not a wrestling fan by any means, I have nothing against those who do enjoy it. I am, however, a massive fan of movies of all genres and I do have a problem when filmmakers treat their target audience with such contempt that the end product leaves me awestruck at the sheer awfulness that I’m expected to sit back and enjoy.
Let me begin with the premise. The US army’s best marine is discharged and struggles to adapt to civilian life. So far so good, but does his loving wife pick him up? No, she waits at home for him to arrive in a taxi. As someone who lives to fight, does he call up Blackwater the second he puts his clothes back on after greeting his wife? After all, he must have heard about them from his time in the armed forces. No, he somehow manages to instantly walk into a dead-end job as a security guard and screws up on his first day by throwing someone through a window. His wife then talks him into going away to nowhere in particular, but seeing as she doesn’t seem to do anything during the day and he’s just been fired, don’t they have bills to pay? I’m getting angry now so I’ll leave it there for the setup.
What becomes quite obvious to any active viewer is the fact that The Marine is constructed from nothing more than a formula that repeats itself ad nauseum. That formula is: John walks into somewhere, he has a fight, he manages to avoid dying when that place blows up, then he chases after the bad guys who’ve run away with his Mrs. If you like to see stuff blowing up with people diving out of the way, then this is definitely the movie for you, dear reader. However, if you like anything approximating acting, writing or logical sense, you’ve come to the wrong place.
The word ‘acting’ might be stretching it a bit to be honest. In his first movie, John Cena does his own stunts, which should be applauded, but his acting ability amounts to nothing more than standing still and saying lines very slowly. Kelly Carlson as his wife doesn’t have much to work with so I’ll let her off, but it’s Robert Patrick who really steals the show. As the bad guy, he hams it up so much that this movie should come with the warning ‘not suitable for vegetarians’. Rome is possibly the happiest bad guy I’ve ever seen in an action movie and Patrick’s performance is so over-the-top that I wondered if he was part of a joke that no one else in the cast and crew were in on.
You can’t make a good movie if you haven’t got a good screenplay, and you can be damn sure that the makers of The Marine never got their hands on anything close to a good screenplay. There are so many things that make no sense that it’s difficult to know where to start. The dialogue is little more than a greatest hits compilation of the cheesiest lines from every action movie from the eighties, but it’s moments like the conversation between Rome and the man he’s cutting out of a deal that show all logic has been abandoned. If someone was cutting you out of millions of dollars, would you stay on the line while the guy who’s screwing you over takes another call to sort out his cable subscription? I thought not. And don’t even get me started on the “black guys don’t…” lines.
What became clear to me while watching The Marine is that it was made by idiots for idiots. Now, before all the fans of this movie start posting comments below, let me make myself clear. I’m not saying that people who enjoy this movie are idiots—it’s definitely possible to appreciate this movie on at least one level—but I’m saying that the people who made this movie think their audience are idiots. With appalling dialogue, terrible acting and no logical sense whatsoever, the good people at WWE Films seem to think that all they have to do is stick one of their big names in front of explosions for and hour and a half and the fans will lap it up like the morons they obviously think they are.
Shown in 16:9 on this release, this movie feels like it was made for DVD and TV rather than the big screen. One of the advantages filmmakers had in the early days of Cinemascope was the ability to fit three characters in a medium widescreen shot. The problem with this movie is that John Cena is so huge 16:9 is needed just to fit him and his shoulders in the frame, so a wider picture would have been a better choice. The Marine is a colourful movie and this Blu-ray release does it justice from that perspective, although I detected a surprising amount of grain in certain scenes. It was nothing close to the worst regular DVDs, but I was expecting better from this Blu-ray release. That said, the picture is sharp, although Robert Patrick might not approve because I’ve never seen the wrinkles on his face in such detail before.
If you’ve already checked out the scores I’ve given this release, you may be forgiven for thinking the quality of the audio on this release if below-par. Not so—the quality of the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is great (although I could only listen to the 1.5Mbps DTS 5.1 Core mix). Dialogue is clear and the huge numbers of explosions sound great through the surround speakers. The low score is due to the viewer’s overall audio experience. The problem here is the background music and the way it changes whenever the director wants the viewer to feel a different way. It’s so obvious and cynical that it really began to grate on me and the fact that it appeared to have been composed by an elevator musician does the movie no favours.
The main extra feature is an eleven-minute ‘Making-of’ featurette that contains the expected number of clips from the movie, interviews and behind-the-scenes footage. No one involved in the making of The Marine is under any illusion about the intellectual properties of their movie, with comments like ‘it’s a simple story with a lot of action’, but unsurprisingly there are no apologies. Apart from the trailer, the rest of the extras amount to nothing more than promotional fluff about John Cena’s wrestling career and WWE itself. It seems to me that clips from these featurettes would have been shown between fights on WWE TV shows and there’s certainly a lot of duplication in the interviews. There’re also short clips of the movie’s world premiere to the marines at Camp Pendleton, which again falls under the ‘promotional fluff’ category.
I might go so far as to recommend watching The Marine as laughable after-the-pub trash if you catch it on TV while flicking through the channels, but the idea splashing out your hard-earned cash on this Blu-ray release is as daft as the movie itself. The movie looks and sounds okay but the presentation quality shouldn’t be a deal-breaker here, nor should the slight set of extras. I can only recommend you stay well away, even if you're the biggest WWE fan in the world.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray edition.
Review by Scott McKenzie
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 29th October 2007
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD MA 5.1 English, DTS-HD MA 5.1 French, DTS-HD MA 5.1 German
Subtitles: English, Spanish
Extras: Making-of, John Cena Features, WWE Features, World Premiere at Camp Pendleton, Trailer
Easter Egg: No
Director: John Bonito
Cast: John Cena, Robert Patrick, Kelly Carlson, Anthony Ray Parker, Abigail Bianca
Genre: Action and Thriller
Length: 90 minutes
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