I use hands to help my fellow man / I use hands to help with what I can / But when I face an unjust injury / Then I change my hand into FIST OF FURY

The Marine 3: Homefront

tn_marine3You guys know I’ve always rooted for the movies carrying the prestigious WWE Films banner. I gave the rare rave review of their dumb slasher movie SEE NO EVIL (9% on Rotten Tomatoes), even got quoted by the producer on a commentary track. I wrote that the Triple-H/Parker Posey team in INSIDE OUT might be “this generation’s William Powell and Myrna Loy”. I loved THE MARINE 2 and labelled it one of the few DTV sequels superior to a theatrical original. They were starting to have a really good track record there.

Now I’m a little concerned because it seems like WWE Films is trying to get out of the making-WWE-films business. First they started picking up non-wrestling, independent features to distribute (THE DAY), then they put out two wide theatrical releases, DEAD MAN DOWN and THE CALL, that star Oscar nominees/winners instead of wrestlers. I mean I want to see both movies – they’re from pretty interesting directors, the first looks good and the other looks funny-bad – but I don’t like it. Yeah, so what if Cartoon Network has live action shows and MTV doesn’t play M anymore? Other people will make movies starring Halle Berry, I promise you. WWE should only have her in a buddy cop movie with The Undertaker.

But at least they’re keeping the THE MARINE franchise alive. It’s an anthology series, no connecting characters or events, different directors. Each tells a story of an off-duty United States Marine having to rescue a loved one from hostage takers. The first marine was John Cena, the DTV sequels are lesser known wrestlers Ted DiBiase Jr. and now Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, who doesn’t look as cartoonish as most wrestlers because he was a guy that was on The Real World and said he wanted to be a wrestler, then was on a WWE reality competition and got to do it for real. He ended up with this role because the first guy they cast, Randy Orton, was dishonorably discharged from the real Marines and they complained about him representing them in this important film. That might be why the movie opens with a little asskissing Marines recruiting video type montage as The Miz narrates about getting out of fictional small town Bridgeton, WA to embark on exciting military adventures.

mp_marine3His character Jake Carter is returning home for the first time in 14 months, I think he said. His best friend (Jared Keeso) is the police chief now, his sisters live in a house together, the youngest one he’s worried about because she doesn’t have a job and he disapproves of her boyfriend. Happy-to-see-their-brother quickly becomes annoyed-with-his-meddling, and Chief Best Buddy isn’t so happy when Jake gets in a bar fight that should’ve put him in jail. Pretty soon he’s gonna be wishing he’d get deployed again.

Oh wait, but this is a MARINE movie. So meanwhile about a 40 minute drive away in Seattle, a gang of masked thieves led by Pope (the great Neil McDonough) are robbing a bank. And then Pope guilts the bank manager about foreclosing on houses and burns all the money right in front of him. He’s burning it in a make-a-statement-about-greed way, I think, not in a Heath-Ledge-Joker-fementing-chaos type of way. It turns out these guys are real terrorists, or “not your usual extremist” as one FBI agent says of Pope, but I guess technically they could still be considered bank robbers. They do steal the money by forcibly removing it from its vault. What they choose to do with it after it’s in their possession is irrelevant. I don’t think it’s like shoplifting rules where if you didn’t carry it out of the building it doesn’t count. If it is they could always throw the you-broke-it-you-bought-it doctrine at ’em.

Anyway, they hide out in the ruins of an old ferry (I’m sure inspired by The Kalakala) where they are preparing for a bomb attack somewhere in Seattle, but a squabble leads to a shooting leads to them kidnapping Jake’s little sister and her boyfriend because they saw the whole thing while hanging out in a nearby junkyard. So Jake and the FBI try to get them back.

Darren Shahlavi (IP MAN 2) plays a member of the gang, so he gets to do one of his traditional henchman-who-clearly-has-more-fighting-skills-than-the-others-although-he-doesn’t-really-get-a-good-enough-showcase-for-them roles. At least his character stood out a little in THE PACKAGE.

Pope’s weaselly henchman is played by Michael Eklund, who I recognized from Seagal’s True Justice show and from Stone Cold’s movies HUNT TO KILL and TACTICAL FORCE. I guess there’s alot of low budget action work to be had if you hang around Vancouver. Yeah, it’s filmed in Canada, but admittedly it does look like parts of Washington. Besides the ferry another accurate local touch is that his sister complains about property taxes. On the other hand somebody pronounces pecan pie “pee-can” instead of “pih-con.” They do pass the test of pronouncing the city of Spokane correctly (it’s spoe-can, not spoe-cane).

I notice they mention a cedar mill. Wood mills were a big part of fake rural Washington in the The Rock version of WALKING TALL, which also had the WWE name on it, and also had Neil McDonough as the bad guy. Weird.

It’s interesting that this bad guy really does care, it’s not just a front for stealing money like in a DIE HARD movie. In the book Nothing Lasts Forever the villains were true believers. DIE HARD changed that and terrorists-who-are-actually-thieves became the standard used in DIE HARD 3-5, UNDER SIEGE 1-2, etc. AIR FORCE ONE and THE MARINE 2 and 3 are different, their villains really are trying to make a statement about a cause they believe in.

I started to wonder if this one is telling us that good guys are soldiers who don’t question orders and bad guys point out greed and corruption. But that doesn’t really fit,because he doesn’t like the FBI’s plan to raid the ferry with his sister on it, he tries to fight them and later sneaks off to infiltrate-and-extract in his own way. I think they’re just trying to make it contemporary by mentioning a bunch of issues you hear about alot these days. Instead of any kind of “just how evil is he?” scene we get the FBI describing his doctorate in philosophy, his parents having their home foreclosed, his sister being dropped from her insurance when she had ovarian cancer. Hopefully we can all sympathize with this, although not with his teaming up with a militia and planning a bombing “to make them listen.”

Jake Carter doesn’t get a “just how badass is he?” though. They figure it’s enough to know he’s a Marine. The Marine, I mean.

I like that he gains respect for his sister’s boyfriend when he tells him to run to safety and he stays to try to help save the sister. I guess it’s that cliche of marines believing in “never leave a man behind.” Another example of the kinda macho bonding that I love is where the chief arrests him and seems to be against him, but then secretly lets him loose. “You’ll get alot of heat for this.” “Yeah.”

I love it, but at the end it doesn’t seem like he does get any heat for it, just as The Marine doesn’t get any heat for killing a bunch of guys.

Part 2 came from a fairly accomplished DTV director, this one is by Scott Wiper who did the terrible post-action WWE Films debut THE CONDEMNED. This is a big improvement, at least. He co-wrote it with Declan O’Brien, director of WRONG TURN 3-5 as well as SHARKTOPUS. Together this superteam came up with a reasonably entertaining movie, but it’s strangely small time. Pope’s plan seems elaborate as it’s unfolding, but it turns out just to be about setting off one car bomb. We don’t even ever find out where the building was that he was gonna try to blow up. The climax is just The Marine driving the car really fast, rolling it and climbing out before it blows up. It’s a job that requires some mettle but not necessarily marine training. Before the car driving though there is a good job for The Marine, a shot that’s too risky for the cop to take but he knows he can take it because he’s The Marine.

Miz is passable but unremarkable and honestly doesn’t do that much action-wise. He gets involved in the battle surprisingly late in the game. He does have that one bar fight I guess, and he impales a guy in one part. And does some intense faces while steering. And he drives a motorcycle. At the end he’s covered in more dirt and blood than John McClane at the end of DIE HARD, although he didn’t go through as much.

I’m happy to say this is watchable, sorry to say that I’ve already mostly forgotten it. Looking forward to part 4 though.

acr_marine3

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Monday, April 29th, 2013 at 1:34 am and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

25 Responses to “The Marine 3: Homefront”

  1. the original Marine was theatrical? weird I thought it was DTV too

  2. Saw the original Marine in a platinum class luxury cinema in Jakarta-good times. Hate to differ Vern, but thought the sequel made the original look like Shakespeare or even Die Hard I – Temuera Morrison was clearly slumming it. Nonetheless I would buy your book on the WWE Films oeuvre in a heartbeat…

  3. I don´t know if I will like this or not, since I thought THE MARINE 2 was such a big disapointment in every aspect. Sure it was technically better, but it was also the most boring generic sequel I never wanted in the first place. This is a franchise that had with the possibility of becoming completely ludicrous and awesome and then dropped the ball with the sequel. R-rated or not, I really did not care.

    The casting of DiBiase was dumb, I don´t remember WWE even promoted him during the wrestlingshows at all at the time when the movie came out. He never has achieved anything as a wrestler and was such a bland lead. Like dishwater without enough soap.

  4. They’re domestic terrorists planning to bomb an American city? Hmm, sounds like WWE films “The Marine 3: Homefront” might eerily anticipate the Boston bombings the way Tony Kushner’s “Homebody / Kabul” did September 11th.

    Then again, probably not.

  5. Shoot – for that matter, weird they casted The Miz since his stock in WWE has gone down the toilet. 2 years ago he main evented Wrestlemania. Now he’s the bitch in a IC title feud with Wade “The Bland” Barrett.

  6. Yeah The Miz is absolutely floundering in WWE now, he’s directionless and it seems they have no idea what to do with him. Turning him into a good guy (perhaps to help this movie?) just made him even more bland, and teaming him up with Ric Flair just wreaks of desperation. Nobody buys these two would ever be friends.

    Btw Vern, if you haven’t seen it, I thought The Day was incredible when I saw it at Actionfest last year. It may be the only movie I can think of where the JJ Abrams-style “mystery box” approach worked to it’s benefit – I knew nothing about the plot, who the main character was, what kind of villains they were up against, etc…and I loved it. (I probably wouldn’t if I knew all these details beforehand, since the movie’s fairly slow to dole out information). I think this may be the only WWE movie not to have a wrestler in it too, btw.

  7. For what it’s worth, Vern, there are WWE guys in two movies you mentioned. THE CALL has David Otunga who is also the husband of DREAMGIRLS’ Jennifer Hudson and a Harvard Graduate who wears a bow tie both in character and real life. One of the henchmen in DEAD MAN DOWN is Wade Barrett, who had a feud with the Miz partially predicated on the dubious honour of which was better, having a small role in a theatrical movie, or being the star of a Direct to DVD film.

    Also, that poster keeps cracking me up with how dense Miz looks with that expression.

  8. I also thought the first was by far the best. I liked John Cena in the role, even though he looks dumb as dirt. And I thought the action was great, reaching levels of ridiculousness and a frantic energy that really made me root for it. The sequel didn’t do much for me. I don’t think Roel Reine is any good, I’m afraid. Death Race 2 made me yawn.

    Guess I’ll watch this when I have the time.

  9. The best WWE movie by far is the drama THAT’S WHAT I AM. it’s a one off, they’re not making any more like that, but I highly recommend we all see it for future discussions of the WWE canon.

    Man I wish I could think of a clever punny title for the Halle Berry/Undertaker buddy cop movie.

  10. The first is still one of the best self-aware action flicks ever made. (Working title: “Shit Blows the Fuck Up”) Just the opening title card alone lets you know what kind of ride you’re in for: “Al Qaeda Compound, Iraq”. The putative sequel was weak, although the REAL sequel, “Twelve Rounds,” was actually not bad. This one though, the third, was tired right out of the box. When are we gonna get past the current action movie necessity of having a teenage girl relative in danger? SOOOO over it. Thanks LFDH, Taken, Stolen, etc. Enough though, K?

  11. Back in the good old days of action movies (the 80’s) Miz would not have been the lead. He would have been the villain’s punk kid or something.

  12. Darth Irritable

    April 29th, 2013 at 2:38 pm

    Wait – Randy Orton was dishonorably discharged from the Marines? Not at all surprising since he’s such a douchebag, but is that legit?

  13. It is. It was even mentioned in his angle with Mick Foley back in 2003-4.

  14. I loooved the opening scene of the first movie. Like Charley said, it opens in an “Al Quaeda Compound, Iraq” with John Cena busting into the live filming of a beheading and beating the shit out the terrorists. Then he gets kicked out of the Marines for being too awesome. If the whole movie was like that it’d be great, like a live-action TEAM AMERICA, but instead it devolves into Robert Patrick mugging and forced wackiness.

  15. Vern, have you seen Knucklehead (aka “The One Where Big Show Saves His Orphanage By Winning A MMA Tournament”)? Because I’m pretty sure that was the one that made WWE reconsider their strategy of just casting random wrestlers as their leads.

  16. Illinois – I think what baffles me about WWE Films is that they already have the one thing they desperately need: Characters. And they won’t exploit that.

    I mean…how come we’ve never had a badass Undertaker movie? Think about it. “dead man” roaming the lands, dispensing brutal justice while also at times ditching his funeral robes for motorcycle riding. I would’ve suggested an awesome Paul Bearer cameo but sadly Percy Pringle died recently. But point is, you have actor and character already. FILM IT!

    That’s what strikes me about NO HOLDS BARRED from long ago, and not just that it sucks. I mean why didn’t McMahon and Hogan basically do a film version of those colorful feuds from that era? You could have Hogan having a ROCKY III plot against one of his adversaries from that era, like I guess Ted DiBiase. Do it like a larger than life superhero movie, except on the idea that wrestling is real and before it became stock, the movie would’ve been filling in the blanks “backstage” between the promos and matches. (while now in pro wrestling, we get more invisible camera sketches/scenes than promos.)

    Also, no “Dookie?!?”

  17. Oh definitely. They wouldn’t even need to come up with anything new for an Undertaker movie, just adapt that batshit-insane Chaos Comics series he had in the late 90s.

    http://4thletter.net/2009/10/the-undertaker-comic-part-1-no-selling-in-ink-form/

    I’d certainly rather watch an over the top nonsensical superhero movie than Big Show going full retard or Miz pretending he’s a tough ex-soldier.

  18. Undertaker also had a short-lived show on the Sci Fi (now SyFy) network in the late 90’s. But yes, an Undertaker movie would be kind of awesome.

  19. They dont make movies about the wrestler characters because its counter intuitive from a business standpoint. Not every wrestling fan is going to go see a wwe movie, but almost no non-wrestling fan is going to go see a movie about a wwe character.

    The whole model is corporate synergy. They can make low budget movies and get a big marketing push by tying it to the wwe franchise shows in-program. And they can sign the wrestler to a movie deal as part of the television contract.

    The original wwe films model of theatrical releases was flawed. The movies cost too much and the limited appeal of the leading men was a larger opportunity cost than the benefit of the free synergistic marketing. However, with new model of dtv films that get the majority of their marketing from in-show tie-ins (and attached trailers to other wwe DVDs) the company has been able to shift their budgets to pay for legitimate A-list talents in secondary roles which better appeal to mainstream audiences.

    And now they’re even having some success with mid-level thrillers. The call did more money opening weekend than all the previous wwe theatrical releases did in total. Combined. The call is the kind of movie hollywood rarely makes anymore and without the marketing benefits of the wwe brand and all of its various media tentacles, it probably wouldn’t have been doable. But , because it was well scheduled, low cost, and well made, it was a big hit.

  20. Vern, I loved Dean Man Down and can’t wait for you to review it. I won’t say you’ll love it, because I never dare say someone is going to love (or hate) a movie because they’re subjective and you can never know. It does get some static for being slow, but I liked all the character development. It could use some more action, but I still really enjoyed it.

    Stu – I had to go back up and look at the poster. Thanks for pointing that out because his “Oh shit, what am I doing, where am I going?” expression made me laugh.

  21. “I started to wonder if this one is telling us that good guys are soldiers who don’t question orders and bad guys point out greed and corruption.”

    The Monday after OWS began, RAW started with the majority of wrestlers “on strike” and HHH and C.M. Punk entertaining the crowd themselves and at one point comparing the guys outside to “the hippies in New York City” or something like that.

    These two things aren’t coincidences.

  22. The original Paul

    April 30th, 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Ok, so I wasn’t a fan of “Marine 2”, at all. But one of the things I DID like about it was that it had some rather nice cinematography and scoring. I remember it making the most of the setting (a tropical island) at least. Vern, how does “Marine 3” compare to it in that respect?

  23. Actually, Dead Man Down and The Call do star wrestlers, but only in supporting roles. Wade Barrett plays one of the thugs in Dead Man Down and David Otunga plays Halle Berry’s partner (I believe) in The Call. I see where you’re coming from with them strangely straying from films starring wrestlers. They seem to be shifting them to the sidelines, for better or worse.

  24. Hey Vern, got a new twist on DTV for ya:

    http://www.deadline.com/2013/05/crackle-announced-new-series-feature-length-movies-and-more-jerry-seinfeld/

    So what happens to the market if the V in Video stops being disc and starts being like NetFlix and Amazon with their original TV shows?

  25. “Marine 3” had a awesome Ode to the USMC at the beginning of the film, then terribly dishonored the Marines by having “The Miz” arrive home in uniform WITHOUT A SHAVE! NEVER HAPPEN!! BOO! HISS!

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