I'm of the mind that we can't really have too many movies celebrating the various heroics of our men in uniform, don't The Marines deserve to be represented onscreen by something a little better than "The Marine"? The film's trailer ("Meet a one man strike force... Who NEVER SURRENDERS!!!!") has been the funniest thing playing in theaters for weeks now, and the final film actually lives up: If this was sold as a parody, it'd be winning comedy awards right now.
Here's a deliberate throwback to low-budget American hyper-action prior to the late-1990s Asian Invasion, pitched hard at fans who're convinced that modern action heroes are too sleek, too refined and know their way around an English sentence entirely too well. The lead is given to John Cena, a star of WWE wrestling (who also produced the film.) It would be wrong to critique Cena's acting, as the film doesn't ask him to do any as John Triton, an ex-Marine forced into civilian life after.. wait for it.. disobeying a direct order while rescuing POWs from and Al Qaeda Compound (!) in Iraq.
The baddies are a gang of jewel thieves (roll call: Evil Hot Bitch! Angry Black Guy! Crazy Guy! Vaugely-Ethnic Swarthy Guy!) on the run after using something like half a munitions depot to steal a bagful of diamonds. Their led by Robert Patrick, late of "Terminator 2," doing the best interpretation on this part since Lance Henricksen in "Stone Cold." The two story-points meet at a South Carolina (the state is identified by name nearly ten times in the first half, hoping to distract people from how suspiciously the locales look like Australia) gas station, where the crooks hijack Triton's car and hot blonde wife.
Triton, fortunately, manages to happen upon The Most Indestructible Police Car On The Planet Earth and gives chase. He rest of the film follows Triton as he stalks his prey through the swamps, stopping occasionall to punch people to death or jump away from massive explosions.
There's fun to be had with the film's "Renegade"-like unnapologetic doltishness, but it can't sustain the whole film. Certain parts are dopey enough to be worth the ticket price on their own, like the eye-poppingly bad taste of the payoff to a running gag about Angry Black Guy's hatred of rock candy, or the obscenely silly reaction-shot of Patrick when his henchmen shout of Triton "This guy's like the Terminator!!" This stuff is cotton candy for action afficionados who feel Jet Li and Keanu Reeves are too "gheeeey," the rest of you may want to chew some Orbit gum afterwards.
FINAL RATING: 4/10