Rewind Review: The Marine

Long before John Cena proved his acting talent in the series Peacemaker, he was the titular Marine. How far he’s come. The Marine is a simple film. It follows a recently discharged marine as he must rescue his wife after she’s been taken hostage by on-the-run diamond thieves. It’s that simplicity that makes everything this film does wrong all the more irritating. What should have been a home run of a dumb fun cheesy action movie is instead a failed bunt that hits the batter directly in the love spuds.

This movie wastes little time in getting to the action. As soon as the production logos are finished we’re transported to Iraq where Cena’s John Triton rescues some captured marines in a hail of gunfire and explosions in a sequence that wouldn’t feel out of place in an 80s movie like Commando. Except in that movie, you can tell what’s happening on screen which is more than I can say for The Marine.

Every single action sequence in this film is shot haphazardly and cut up more than Abdullah the Butcher. It’s just a relentless barrage of quick cuts. What should be simple shots like Cena firing off a machine gun at terrorists like he’s Schwarzenegger are made unintelligible. You can’t tell where anyone is, or what’s happening to them. When Robert Patrick’s villain is introduced, he kicks a security guard in the back of the leg and knocks him out with a punch to the head. That’s filmed with multiple quick cuts. Simple actions are not viewed smoothly in motion here. They’re butchered by quick cuts.

Talking about any other aspect of the movie is pointless because it fails at the most basic aspect an action movie needs. If the action isn’t legible then there isn’t a point in watching. The plot is simple but that’s all it needs to be. The acting is all fine. Robert Patrick is having a ball being a hammy villain and that shines through the screen. Everyone else is simply fine. Not good but not bad. Cena is a robot. Not in his acting but in character. He does his best, and he has natural charisma but the character is a stoic robot that never utilizes the talents of its star.

All of that could be forgiven though if this movie fulfilled the promise of its premise. To be a silly 80s-style action movie of the dumb fun variety. It certainly has the components of one. A muscled-up star, a hammy villain, and giant explosions delivered at precise intervals. None of it matters though because of how bad the action is filmed, or at least edited. For all, I know the action was filmed beautifully but we’ll never know because they chopped it up like deli cold cuts. The minute you can’t tell what’s happening in an action sequence is the minute you stop caring. in The Marine that starts at minute one.

Action is one of the simplest genres of film. If you can provide decent action then any other major faults of the film can be forgiven. The Marine can’t do that and so its faults cannot be forgiven. What should have been a stupid but fun movie is instead just a stupid boring one.

No amount of explosions can make you care when you can never tell what the hell is happening when it counts. It would be like watching a boxing match where both guys wear the exact same thing and have a bag on their heads. If you can’t tell which person is doing what then there is no tension in whether who you’re rooting for will come out on top. Without that tension, action is meaningless and there’s no reason to keep watching. At least The Marine warns you of that within the first five minutes. I wish I listened.

Rating: Cruise Catastrophe

You can learn about our review scale here

Published by Matt Fresh

30% Water, 70% James Bond movies. Matt is a writer, gamer, film enthusiast & silly person. The winner of various fictitious awards, he's fluent in English & pop culture references.

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