Following in the clumsy footsteps of Hulk Hogan, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and several other misguided professional wrestlers, John Cena has decided to follow his acting muse out of the ring and on to the screen.

Mike Hulsebus
“You fool! Pirouette with meaning! With meaning!”

For shame.

While Hogan and “The Rock” could at least use their wrestling personas as a base for vehicle films, Cena lacks the charisma to fill the gaps left by poor direction.

As John Triton, a recently discharged marine, Cena dilligently chases diamond thieves who have taken his wife hostage. The plot is simple, and yet “The Marine” unfortunately consumes a little more than 90 minutes, which is just about 90 minutes too long.

There are no plot twists (even that was predictable), but there are unexplained phenomena. For instance, how does Rome, the criminal “mastermind” played by Robert Patrick (“Terminator 2: Judgment Day”) survive a lethal explosion without his T-1000 powers? The greatest mystery: how Cena’s steroid-swollen neck fits into his marine’s uniform. Absolutely confounding.

Original action sequences are also noticeably lacking. In his directorial debut, John Bonito tries to justify pointless shoot-outs and excessive explosions with slow-motion shots of flying bullet cartridges and flailing human bodies. Despite how common slow-motion now is in action flicks, Bonito should have realized that this tool doesn’t cover up or legitimize poorly choreographed fight sequences – slowing them down only makes their unoriginality more obvious.

“The Marine” is so archetypical a blow-’em-up movie that it even has the seemingly diverse clan of bad guys that exemplifies stereotyping at its worst: a belligerent black man angry about social injustices, a racist white guy, a scheming Hispanic, a sultry Italian woman and a suave and savvy white leader. And even casting Kelly Carlson (“Nip/Tuck”) as the Marine’s hot wife is a futile move, thanks to the PG-13 rating. Not even a wet, white T-shirt redeems

“The Marine.” The audience would see much more of her if they watched FX on Tuesdays at 10 p.m.

Notably absent from the film are a cohesive script and any shred of quality acting. Take out the shots of Triton running through marshes and flying out of exploding buildings just in the nick of time, and you could easily shave the movie down to around an hour. In fact, the ratio of time between Triton flying out of exploding buildings and time between Triton’s lines is about 1:1.

One of the script’s shining moments comes when one of the thieving goons claims a room smells like “baked ass.” Even if this described your state of mind prior to seeing “The Marine,” it’s doubtful you would find this trite writing funny.

In another moment of screenwriting brilliance, one of the goons compares Triton to the Terminator. Perhaps this is an attempt at foreshadowing – Patrick couldn’t kill Arnold and he can’t kill Cena. Or maybe it’s another crack at humor – though even the questionable character in the crowd wearing a WWE shirt didn’t laugh.

Most likely it’s a weak combination of the two.

While the United States Marines prefer to call themselves “The Few, The Proud,” it’s likely that few will be proud to say they saw “The Marine.”

The Marine
At the Showcase and Quality 16
20th Century Fox

1 star out of 5

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