The Marine

The Marine (2006)
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: John Cena, Robert Patrick, Kelly Carlson
Extras: Featurettes, Trailers

"Cops! I hate cops! Well… that and rock candy."

If you're a fan of sarcasm, I hope you enjoy the following, opening line:

Luckily, moviegoers with an affinity for Oscar excellence will rejoice to discover that the WWE has brought their high flying, testostedrama antics to the big screen with an intense… eh… I can't even commit to my own sarcasm. Let's cut to the chase instead… 'The Marine' is an unoriginal, poorly scripted, dry heave of a "film" that will probably only register with diehard wrestling fans and the fascinating audience that adores the "so-bad-you-love-em" flicks regularly hurled at the screen by greedy studios. While a certain level of suspended disbelief is a requirement for movies like 'The Marine,' I can only stretch logic so far before it snaps and leaves me in a daze.

Our story focuses on a group of thieves-on-the-run led by the hotheaded, gang leader, Rome (Robert Patrick). In their attempts to avoid the authorities, they stupidly kidnap a blonde (Kelly Carlson) who's conveniently married to an ex-marine by the name of John Triton (John Cena). I could go on, but just use an ounce of imagination and you'll accurately plot out the rest of the film.

The biggest problem I had with 'The Marine' is the same problem I had with other recent actioners like 'Transporter 2,' 'Crank,' and 'XXX.' The hero becomes so increasingly invincible as the film wears on, that all tension is drained from the action. It all ceases to be exciting even when everything on screen shouts that you should be ecstatic. Even if you put that complaint aside, all that remains is a tired shuffle of henchman being offed in new and spectacular ways until Triton can work his way up to Rome (insert your own highbrowed mythological joke here, folks). However, there've been so many stories pressed into this mold over the last three decades, that there aren't any remaining cinematic methods for a character to die (at least none that you haven't seen a thousand times before). It's practically a classic Betty Crocker recipe by now: take a dash of impalement with a random object, sprinkle in some sort of decapitation, a pinch of interesting gun deaths, and a healthy helping of Rue Goldberg devices layered within the environment that lay waste to anyone in their path.

The only thing I had a good time with in 'The Marine' was Robert Patrick. Sadly, after the half way mark, his portrayal of Rome begins to take on such a heavy self-awareness, that I had a difficult time enjoying the fun he was clearly having on set. Cena is passable (although more successful actors have trickled out of the WWE) and Carlson should stick to darker material that's more reminiscent of her recurring role on Nip/Tuck. When the action genre occasionally feels fresh, its with films like 'The Rundown' and 'Pitch Black'… movies that receive a boost from engaging leads or high concept originality that play with the genre.

Even when I don't enjoy flicks like 'The Marine,' I can usually look forward to a glorious transfer that revs the high-def engine in my home theater. But I'm sorry to say, the video presentation on this release is as flaccid as its character development. Tossed on the disc with the usually sufficient MPEG-2 codec, I was surprised to see how ugly the movie looked on Blu-ray. Sure the detail and the sharpness is impressive as usual, but this new breed of action film seems to come with stylistic contrast levels and washed colors that rob the print of any depth or beauty. On top of this, it almost appears as if the actors were retouched in post-production to make their skin resemble the plastic of an action figure. You can also expect a storm of grain and visual clutter throughout the film that made it one of the noisiest transfers I've seen on the format. To be fair, I was able to fix a portion of this problem with some tweaks to my television, but I shouldn't have to adjust my ideal settings to account for an unattractive picture from the filmmakers.

While it's technically solid, the audio isn't much of an improvement. Launched through your surround sound with a DTS lossless track, 'The Marine' is too busy trying to wake up your neighbors to be appreciated for anything close to a convincing soundfield or a realistic soundscape. Explosions send each speaker to the roof and there's no effort made by the designers to bring any subtlety to the mix. It also bothered me that the subwoofer assisted so much of the characters' dialogue. Every male actor sounded like their voices were slightly deepened to make their characters sound more masculine and menacing.

I'm probably just getting annoyed at this point, but I'd love to hear from someone who enjoyed the supplemental package included with this release. I just don't get it… this commercial for the WWE is so packed with cast and crew members proclaiming 'The Marine' as the next great evolution of the action genre, that I'm convinced half of Hollywood actually is addicted to heroin. I have to believe the filmmakers know they're scooping out of a toilet to sell confused consumers chocolate mousse, but they seem so genuinely sure of their own brilliance as artists and craftsman that I found myself reeling from the sheer audacity of it all. If you still care, there are three featurettes. If I wasn't clear, they're all worthless.

I'm sure you already know if 'The Marine' is the sort of film you would enjoy. Like I said, fans of wrestling and entertaining crap will find a mildly good time in this wrap-em-up, punch-em-down countdown to the next Wrestlemania. However, whether you love 'The Marine' or hate it, you'll be overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the video and audio presentations, the anemic special features, and the fact that a couple of high definition trailers will be an overflowing treasure chest on this Blu-ray release.