April 9, 2012

Reader's Choice: The Marine 2 (2009)

Directed by Roel Reiné. Starring Ted Dibiase ("Joe Linwood"), Tamuera Morrison ("Damo"), Lara Cox ("Robin Linwood"), and Robert Coleby ("Darren Conner"). Rated R.

Source: Region 1 DVD (20th Century Fox)
Running time: 01:35:07
Country: USA

Picked by "The Cinemasochist" Justin Oberholtzer

If you grew up in the 80's or are at least a knowledgeable enough pro-wrestling fan, you'll undoubtedly remember the villainous WWF character by the name of "The Million Dollar Man" Ted Dibiase. Well, his real-life son (also named Ted) is currently wrestling for the WWE and is carrying on the Dibiase legacy. A few years back, Ted Dibiase 2.0 was scheduled for a big push as a "good guy", and this film was supposedly a vehicle to help catapult the young star to the top. If you're not familiar with wrestling terminology, a "push" basically means that someone will get more exposure on television, win more matches, and be written into prominent storylines with established wrestling stars. However, Dibiase's career as a wrestler never quite blew up despite him being a super-talented performer; if all else fails, he'll at least have this movie to look back on when he decides to hang up his wrestling boots, but whether this is a film to be proud of or not remains to be seen.

THE MARINE 2 is a by-name-only sequel to the original MARINE, which starred John Cena, and as of this writing there's a third film in the works. Ted Dibiase plays Joe Linwood - a sharpshooter and special forces cat for the Marines. A mission in a third-world country goes wrong when an innocent child is caught in the crossfire, and so Joe - bothered by the incident - takes leave for a couple of weeks to spend some time with his wife. The timing couldn't be better, as his wife Robin - a publicist for some Energy bigwig - has an upcoming business trip on an Indonesian island, where she'll be staying at a luxurious resort. Joe tags along and everything seems to be going beautifully until a group of masked men with machine guns invade the resort one night and hold hostages for ransom. Among the dozens of hostages are Robin and her wealthy boss. It's revealed that the masked men are militant locals who are basically sick of tourists and outsiders spoiling their natural paradise. So of course Joe gets involved and attempts to save his wife, teaming up with mercenaries and a local pyromaniac played by Michael Rooker in the process.

Yes, THE ROOKER is in this film and he's quite possibly the saving grace of THE MARINE 2. He's not necessarily the best thing about it, but his presence sure goes a long way - for me anyway - and it's cool to see him playing a genuine good guy instead of a scumbag. It's also quite surreal to see him and Ted Dibiase working together on screen, which seems like such a random pairing to say the least. Also starring in the film is Tamuera Morrison, who plays the leader of the terrorists. Anyone who's seen ONCE WERE WARRIORS can attest to the fact that Morrison can be an intense dude, and because of the strength of that one performance I'm totally fine with seeing him turn up in films. I have to say, though, Morrison is a strange casting choice here since he's supposed be playing an Indonesian but has a New Zealand accent. That's fine, though; I'm willing to overlook Morrison's accent because it's him and not some random character actor playing the lead antagonist.

One of the highlights of THE MARINE 2 for me was the resort invasion scene, which takes place really early on in the film. What I loved about this portion of the film has entirely to do with how much it appealed to me on a visual level. Tamuera Morrison's character and his fellow "separatists" all wore these tribal-looking masks; it's not something you see in a lot of terrorism/action films because masks like that are simply not the most logical or convenient choice when terrorists are going into a situation where visibility is key, but it creates such an interesting visual aspect. Plus I'm a sucker for masks in films anyway, be it in horror or heist movies. I wish the terrorists in this film (or at least some of the lesser characters) would have left the masks on until the end of the movie, but alas. Aside from that, I liked the overall look of the film and how it was shot, and there were also some pretty amazing stunts in this, including a scene where Dibiase legitimately kicks someone's head through a piece of wood. The action rarely lets up in this film, which was a nice surprise.

I haven't read any reviews for this film, but I'm willing to bet that very few of them - if any - sing the praises of Ted Dibiase's acting in this. To his credit, though, he's not a trained actor, and even though some charisma would have been nice, it's by no means a requirement for films of this nature (Chuck Norris). Luckily for Dibiase, he's usually paired up with someone through about two-thirds of the film, so there's usually some misdirection when it comes to the focus being entirely on Dibiase, which of course takes the attention away from his inexperience as an actor.

Despite being very conventional film and almost entirely devoid of originality, THE MARINE 2 is a shockingly "OK" action film. The script is similar to some of the more recent (as in the last five years or so) Dolph Lundgren films, for example, in that it's written not to reinvent the wheel but to showcase an action star and feature tons of shit blowing up. The thing is, this film doesn't have an established action star to showcase, so audiences may not be as willing to overlook a lot of its flaws. Sure, you have the hardcore WWE fans who will watch the film and more than likely be happy with the results since most of them will probably watch it just to see Ted Dibiase shooting guns and beating people up, and there's enough action in here to satisfy even those who aren't familiar with pro-wrestling, but at the end of the day it's a movie that I can't recommend because of how much it caters to a certain demographic and because it's a "been there, done that" type of film. If I have a single major complaint, it's that there were no uzis in the film. I know this isn't the 80's anymore, but had all of the bad guys been packing uzis, my score would probably be a whole point higher.

Score: 6


  1. Color me sold, though I would have watched The Marine 2 at some point anyway. I liked the first film enough, and knowing this is a DTV sequel, with a much lesser known wrestler, I figured it wouldn't be the greatest of action films.
    However, now knowing that the action is in abundance and that The Rook is in it means I will more than likely enjoy the film for what it is, much in the same way you enjoyed it. It doesn't take much to entertain me when it comes to this specific sub-genre of action cinema.

    And yes, I must fully agree with you, Aaron... uzis really need to make a comeback.

  2. I think you might appreciate it, Matt, seeing as you tend to seek out DTV action movies more than the average horror fan. The presence of The Rooker is definitely a plus, and he's actually in the film quite a bit in the first and third acts. Something I failed to mention in the review is that Dibiase does a lot of his own stunts, which is pretty cool, and in general the stuntwork (mainly the fight sequences) are impressive because of how genuine the bumps look, which isn't a surprise since most of the crew was Indonesian.

  3. There's an outtake on the DVD of the head-kicking scene I mentioned in the review, and it looks utterly painful.