Cena puts the slam in this Marine

By Susan Walker

It's simply not fair to dismiss a movie like The Marine as a mindless action flick. Yes, things do blow up good in this World Wrestling Entertainment production starring wrestling champ John Cena. But that's not all.

There's international politics, as U.S. Marine John Triton (Cena) bursts into an "Al Qaeda compound" in Iraq and single-handedly exterminates a dozen men in turbans.
There's sensitivity to social issues, when we learn that Triton, discharged from the Marines for heroically disobeying an order, used to get beaten by his father.
There's also commentary on race relations: "I'm a black man," says Morgan, one of a band of criminals. "Black men don't drive minivans."

And there's cultural awareness: One of the bad guys who kidnap Triton's wife to let loose his stateside mayhem calls the wrestler "The Terminator."

You can say that again. Cena bears a slight resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger, in the latter's fitter days, especially between the lower jaw and the waist.

And Cena's built to last. Triton survives four fuel explosions, each time spinning in the thick of a towering inferno. He escapes a diving, burning car, polka-dotted with bullet holes, without a scratch. He withstands punch after punch to the face without so much as a slight discolouring.

The Marines missed a good bet with this bare-handed killing-machine. Triton stumbles into a nasty nest of heavily armed robbers who have killed a cop and a collaborator in a daylight heist of a South Carolina diamond shop. He pursues them in a police cruiser and follows them into a swamp. That's where we learn that there are indeed no crocodiles in South Carolina, but alligators aplenty.

Thin-lipped, well-tailored Rome (Robert Patrick) is a ladies' man with a cruel streak. His mol Angela (Abigail Bianca) gets hostile toward Triton's wife Kate (a latter-day Sandra Dee named Kelly Carlson). So there's even a catfight to complement the endless gun battles, car chases and screen-filling balls of flame.

A couple of hillbilly thugs also get their teeth sunk into Triton while he's on his way to rescue his wife. This is a meaningful diversion, to bolster the Deliverance digs that Morgan (the giant Anthony Ray Parker) gets just before he confesses to having been sexually abused at summer camp.

Such bizarre touches remind one of the appeal of WWE televised bouts.

It's not a question of good acting, but of how far a filmmaker is willing to go to get the attention of an audience.

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