In 2006, professional wrestler John Cena turned into an action star with The Marine, which revolved around a discharged Marine having to save his wife from kidnappers. Three years later, Fox and WWE Studios return with this in-name sequel that proves to be on the same level, if not very slightly better than the original.
Replacing Cena as the new ‘Marine’ is third generation superstar wrestler Ted DiBiase, the son of legendary 80’s wrestling heel Ted “The Million Dollar Man” DiBiase Sr. DiBiase plays Joe Linwood, a Marine Force Recon sniper who gets a leave of absence after feeling emotionally distressed when his last mission resulted in the death of a young boy in Southeast Asia. Joe’s wife Robin is hired to do the public relations for a new resort that has opened, giving Joe the vacation he so well deserved.
However, it is not long before what starts out as paradise becomes a nightmare. At first, Joe is at odds with Robin’s boss, Darren Conner, over the way he treats her. That becomes the least of his problems as a mercenary faction led by Damo takes over the resort and holds everyone hostage, including Robin. Joe must use the wits and skills he has as a Marine to find a way to stop the mercenary faction.
While one can only expect the predictability of such a film, as these films are a dime a dozen, one can’t help seeing fresh blood in the lead roles and DiBiase proves himself to be just that. While there have been pro wrestlers who have tapped into the action market, like Dwayne Johnson, John Cena, Hulk Hogan, Rob Van Dam, and Dave Bautista, DiBiase ranks up there with Cena as a potential action lead. While Cena relied on mainly brute strength in The Marine, DiBiase relies on more agility with strength mixed in, enabling him to be able to handle a lot of the action sequences necessary for the film.
The plot is somewhat standard, but what some may not realize is that the story was inspired by a true story. In 2001, a secluded resort in the Philippines was taken over by guerrillas who arrived by boat. This incident inspired screenwriters Christopher Borrelli and John Chapin Morgan to write the screenplay for the film.
Taking over the directing reins is Roel Reiné, the “go-to” Dutch filmmaker behind many of today’s straight-to-DVD sequels and some great Dutch historical epics. Reiné, who started out as a cinematographer, made very good visual use of the film’s locations in Thailand, as well as enhancing the tension on screen between characters. It clearly seen why the Dutch-born director and cinematographer Joost Van Starrenberg made quite a good team here.
The supporting cast do a decent job, despite some shades of overacting. ONCE WERE WARRIORS’ Temuera Morrison brings fear at times in his role of mercenary leader Damo. He is seen as a man who will do anything to get the “tribute” he and his team thinks they deserve. When they say “tribute”, they mean ransom. Lara Cox doesn’t offer much but pretty much being the eye candy and sadly doesn’t get in on any action like Kelly Carlson did in the original film. Veteran Michael Rooker does well here as Church, an ex-Army Ranger turned boat tour operator who becomes Joe’s ally in his mission and Damo and his goons.
While legendary stunt coordinator Dickey Beer was second unit director, the credit for the action goes to Thai stunt coordinator Kawee Sirikhanaerut. A protégé of the late stuntmaster extraordinare Panna Rittikrai, Kawee has had his share of work as a stunt coordinator for many lower budgeted Hollywood productions such as Vampires: The Turning and the made-for-TV mini-series Blackbeard. Kawee himself gets a role in the film in the role of Bantoc. Kawee makes good use of the cast’s action abilities. DiBiase, who underwent military training for his role, gets to showcase some of the hard work he endured when it comes to the hand-to-hand combat sequences.
However, one fight scene really took the cake for the film and is perhaps the best edited fight scene of the film. The scene pits Joe against two of Damo’s goons who are skilled in Muay Thai. While DiBiase was doubled for some stuff by Dutchmen Lex de Groot and Ron Smoorenburg, this one fight was all DiBiase as the use of overhead shots and a few long takes with a crane shot show DiBiase using his skills against the goons with just a few quick cuts and close ups that at times don’t really show much. However, one move that pays homage to Kawee’s mentor that is used is the patented double drop kick between three people, with Joe kicking one goon while the other kicks Joe at the same time.
While many will see this as another Die Hard-ripoff or clone, The Marine 2 actually holds its own thanks to a new young lead who looks to make the transition from the squared circle to the screens along with Kawee Sirikhanaerut’s style of action that most likely would make his mentor very proud. As a matter of fact, The Marine 2 definitely stands on the level, if not just slightly better than its predecessor.
WFG RATING: B-
20th Century Fox presents a WWE Studios film. Director: Roel Reiné. Producer: Michael Lake. Writers: Christopher Borelli and John Chapin Morgan. Cinematography: Joost van Starrenburg. Editing: Michael Trent.
Cast: Ted DiBiase Jr., Lara Cox, Michael Rooker, Temeura Morrison, Robert Coleby, Kelly B. Jones, Sahajak Boonthanakit, Dom Hetrakul.