A couple of years ago, we reviewed “The Marine”, the surprisingly fun John Cena-starring, WWE Films-produced slice of action, that introduced us to a man kicked out of the Marines for being too awesome, and then inadvertently gets involved with diamond thieves who kidnap his wife. No muss, no fuss, Cena is a decent leading man and everyone had a good time.
But, if something’s worth doing, it’s worth doing over and over again, and that’s why the WWE is now up to 5 of these movies. Parts 3-5 all star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, former “The Real World” cast member and one of their more enduring stars, but part 2 gives us Ted DiBiase Jr. Sorry, “Ted DiBiase”, as the head of WWE was known as “Junior” growing up and hated it, so now even if there’s a father and son with the same name who’ve both wrestled, they just…have the same name.
It’s safe to say that Ted isn’t much of an actor. Well, he isn’t any of an actor – this remains his one and only role, and since he’s not worked for the WWE since 2013, I’m guessing he’s not got too much on the horizon. This isn’t a knock on him – he was a wrestler, and probably quite a good one – but a knock on the WWE people who thought he’d be the guy to anchor one of their movies, without bothering to check if his ability to “act” during promos would translate to acting on screen. He, if anything, reminds me of Ron Marchini, the karate master who starred in a series of super-entertaining movies in the late 80s and early 90s despite no appreciable evidence he could act. But he’s our latest inductee into the…
ISCFC ONE-TIMERS CLUB!
Anyway, Ted is Joe Linwood, who’s happily doing his day job of snipering vaguely Middle-Eastern looking people when a kid wanders onto the roof he’s set up on and gets killed in the crossfire. I was about to say “this makes him sad” but really it just makes him look exactly the same as he looks in every other scene (sorry, this is the last reference I’ll make to his acting). Because quitting is for losers, he just takes a little leave and goes home, to accompany his wife to a brand new tropical resort she’s been handling publicity for. Or something, she’s definitely working for super-rich guy Darren Conner (Robert Coleby, who was also in the first Marine movie as a different character), though. Conner has written a self-help book called “Why Can’t I Have It All?” and is perhaps loosely modelled on our current President, who was appearing in the WWE around this time.
Another tradition carried over from part 1 is a wife who’s actually given something to do, and has a decent character to her. Robin Linwood is played by Lara Cox, an Australian TV actor who deserved a much bigger career than she had (she’s not worked since 2013, which probably means she’s had a kid). Or perhaps it’s only me who remembers her from “Heartbreak High”?
Into this tropical idyll comes a bunch of bad hombres, led by the great Temuera Morrison (another actor who deserved a much bigger career, especially after “Once Were Warriors”). Their motivations are, I think, environmental, but it’s really not important. They kidnap everyone, apart from Joe, who manages to escape. There’s a friendly government guy who offers to help, an unfriendly army guy who wants him out of the way while he storms the resort, and best of all, Michael Rooker! Rooker, who was presumably waiting round to get the call from his old friend James Gunn to appear in the “Guardians Of The Galaxy” movies, is the local scuba instructor and also a former Marine, so he and Joe bond immediately. But he’s also too big a star and disappears for act 2 because they couldn’t afford to pay him to be in the entire movie.
So, pretty much the entire last hour of the movie takes place in the resort. Joe and a group of mercenaries hired by the friendly government guy try and fail to take the place back, then Joe goes it alone a little later on. Who’s on whose side? Will they go for the obvious double-cross or play it smart? (hint: it’s the obvious one every time).
I genuinely checked the DVD of this to make sure it was playing at the right speed, at one point. Everyone goes so slowly, like the set was small and they didn’t want to run out of it before the fight / conversation ended. While DiBiase does most of his own stunts, apparently, you’ll begin to wish he hadn’t, as whatever skill he has in the wrestling ring does not really convert to film. I mean, it’s not terrible as such, but if you’re wanting to watch an action movie, it’d be nice to have some it in there. Perhaps it was some sort of metaphor, as Joe takes a staggering amount of damage and keeps on ticking – he’s shot in the stomach, falls 30 feet a few times, is stabbed, and has to dislocate his own thumb in order to slip out of some handcuffs. There’s no way anyone would be recovering from that in 30 seconds, right?
I feel like even if you’re just in the mood to watch a WWE wrestler wander round a tropical locale while fighting, you could do better than this. It’s hard to overstate how much of a blank slate DiBiase is in the lead role – even when he’s got a gorgeous woman in his arms, he can’t summon up any appreciable emotion. I discover that he was a last-minute replacement for Randy Orton, another 2nd generation wrestler and even though I don’t think I’d be able to buy him as a nice guy, I’m sure he’d have been better. This at least makes things understandable, even if it doesn’t put any entertainment back into the movie.
Okay, part 2 down. I quite like The Miz, so I’m looking forward to the next three movies. Just a few quips is all I ask! Some sense that the leading man understands human emotion!
Rating: thumbs down