Oh, to be 10 again.
Wasn’t the world simpler when a few deafening ’splosions and the glimpse of just a bit of side boob were the only requisites for 90 minutes of moviegoing enjoyment? John Bonito and the rest of the WWE (yes, World Wrestling Entertainment) crew responsible for “The Marine” certainly seem to think so. Indeed, the result of their labors — 93 of the dumbest, most puerile and unabashedly mindless minutes in filmmaking history — serves as one of the greatest cinematic treatments of the post-cootie, prepubescent mindset ever conceived. Not since 1994, when Jean-Claude Van Damme roundhouse-kicked his way into our hearts in “Street Fighter,” has any film been so earnestly and irredeemably stupid. As much as it hurts to admit it, however, “The Marine” is one hell of a good time.
Story and logic have no place in a movie produced by the same people who brought us Hulk Hogan and The Rock, and even trying to describe the plot seems like a waste of time. But here goes: The film opens in Iraq, as John Triton (played by WWE personality John Cena) disobeys orders and single-handedly saves a group of captured soldiers from members of al-Qaida. Yes, practically every word in the previous sentence is problematic, but don’t worry. It doesn’t matter that America really is at war; there’s no political consciousness at work here. The bigwigs at WWE learned long ago that their target audience couldn’t be troubled with trivialities like “the news,” so there’s no need for reality in the world of the film.
The bottom line (as “Stone Cold” Steve Austin would say) is that Triton is discharged for disobeying orders and being too much of a badass for the Marines. After returning home to South Carolina and his comely and absurdly vacuous wife Kate (Kelly Carlson, a bionic blonde of “Nip/Tuck” fame), Triton begins a short-lived career as a security guard. Needless to say, Triton gets fired for once again being too much of a badass and for using his “professional wrestling” moves at the workplace.
The Tritons are a child’s conception of adults. Thanks primarily to some of the worst acting ever to grace the big screen, the characters have about as much depth as cardboard cutouts. They are tan and attractive, but have no motivations or back story. Money is clearly no object for the couple: Kate doesn’t work, because what 10-year-old wrestling fan would believe that there was such a thing as a “female professional”? Triton wants a job so he doesn’t have to just “sit around the house,” but he’s probably just bored because he left all his G.I. Joe toys in Iraq. John’s a little too old for recess, so, with nothing else to do, the couple heads to the mountains in their Lincoln Navigator (because everyone can afford one, right?).
En route, however, their outing is spoiled when they have a nasty encounter at a gas station with a group of diamond thieves led by the ridiculously diabolical Rome, played with cartoonish zest by Robert Patrick. Rome and his henchmen — including another scantily clad one-dimensional woman, Angela (Angelica Bianca), and a trigger-happy, racially over-sensitive car enthusiast named Morgan (Anthony Ray Parker) — kidnap Kate and blow up her husband. In his training to become a Marine, however, John became both flame-retardant and immortal (sorry, but it’s just too easy) and takes off in hot pursuit after the bad guys in a police car that happens to be a tricked out Camaro.
The rest of the film is devoted to a high-speed, explosion-rich chase through a South Carolina swamp, replete with alligators, girl-on-girl fights and (believe it or not) attempts at plot twists. Despite the utter banality of the storyline and the absurdity of the characters, the film somehow stays enjoyable by shunning any sort of pretension. Unlike the epic wastes of film created by blowhards like Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer, “The Marine” doesn’t even try to occupy the realm of the B movie. This movie is bad and it knows it. Bonito clearly wants parents to drop their kids off at this one, because unlike most sophomoric efforts, there’s nothing in it for the adults. The lack of verisimilitude, the corny sets and soundtrack, and the repeated references to male-on-male sex acts are clearly all for the kids. This is a world for the innocent who want to pretend they’re not, for boys who think liking bloodless violence and women in wet t-shirts makes them almost as “badass” as the fake badasses they watch on TV. Sure it’s kind of pathetic, but it’s so ingeniously naive that it’s also kind of refreshing.