It’s the eve of the premiere of John Cena’s new movie called 12 Rounds. If you watch WWE programming, no doubt you’ve been saturated with promos and trailers for the movie to the point of being hospitalized for Cena poisoning, and brace yourself cause it’ll get worse the weekend of Wrestlemania 25. But before we get to the induction, let’s take a brief look at WWE Films.
Technically, you could say the seeds of WWE Films were planted back in 1989 when Vince McMahon produced No Holds Barred starring Hulk Hogan. You could tell that Vince “produced” that not only by the credits, but more by the fact that the plot involved an evil network exec (a thinly veiled shot at Ted Turner) and lots of toilet humor, including a grown man defecating himself at the sight of Hulk Hogan.
Then for years WWE did not produce any films until 2002 with The Rock’s feature films The Scorpion King, The Rundown and Walking Tall. Starting in 2006, WWE began to produce “Hollywood” feature films with their wrestlers (or are we supposed to call them “entertainers” now?) under the “WWE Films” brand. The first was a horror movie called See No Evil (and sadly not Ice Cream Man, as was originally the idea) with Glen “Kane” Jacobs as a boogeyman slasher killer in the mold of Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers. That particular movie that was worked into an angle on WWE TV where Kane went into attack mode whenever he heard the words “May Nineteenth!”, because that was the date the movie was released. Scoff if you will, but the movie made a decent bit of revenue at the box office and in DVD rentals so who’s to say that wasn’t some clever strategy (strategery) from WWE.
The second feature film produced under the WWE Films banner is John Cena’s very first starring role. Hey, it just so happens that’s the one we’re here to talk about today! So gather ’round, kids – if I had to sit through it, the least you can do is let me bitch about how awful it is.
The movie begins in Iraq with terrorists about to behead a group of soldiers while recording a message for video to be downloaded by the media. In typical WWE fashion, they stay sensitive to a global threat and during times of crisis, like in the past with The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Sgt. Slaughter and Muhammed Hassan.
Yeah, if you’re looking for deep character development of these bad guys, well, expect to be disappointed.
(Note from RD: I am disappointed – disappointed they aren’t wearing curly toed boots. Does Sheiky have a trademark on those or something?)
John Cena plays John Triton which is a great action hero name, isn’t it? If his name had been Moishe Rosenthal, don’t think it would’ve worked as well.
Triton (I giggle just typing that – TRITON!) spies this scene through the window of their top secret Al Qaida headquarters and is able to sneak across enemy lines, asking for backup on his walkie talkie but his superior officer tells him to stand down. Triton, feeling pretty damn heroic, ignores his superior’s orders and kicks some Al Qaida ass and saves the American soldiers.
Back on the military base, Triton is rewarded for his heroism.
No no no, that will never work.
Triton is DISCIPLINED by being given a discharge from the armed forces because he disobeyed orders. I think that’s in chapter two of The Big Book of Movie Cliches. Now I’ve never been in the military but I would think that a soldier who goes above and beyond the call of duty to save his fellow servicemen would get several medals for honor and bravery, don’t you? I guess not in the WWE Films universe, where military procedure is done BY THE BOOK, DAMMIT.
I should also note that in this movie, this movie called “The Marine”, Cena is only a marine for the first 3 minutes at best. But I suppose they couldn’t call the movie “The Ass Kicker”.
Which makes you really wonder how hands on Vince was on this, as that seems a title he would have been a lot happier with too. I can just see him now in his office, guffawing at the thought of seeing “The Ass Kicker” on the marquee at the local Megaplex. “Ass Kicker!” he screams, followed by an enthusiastic “YES!”
I bet he wouldn’t have been that happy since the writing staff threw the Katie Vick ideas at him.
I’m gonna take a step back and comment on Cena’s acting ability.
He is definitely a step up from Hulk Hogan in the acting department and he definitely has charisma and potential in front of the camera but he doesn’t really emote much. Too many scenes later on call for him to just stare blankly at the screen.
Look at him there. It appears his brain has performed an illegal operation and needs rebooting.
Anyways, John Triton returns to his home in the ‘burbs and to his wife Kate (Kelly Carlson) and they waste no time gettin’ it awn, but no explicit sex so the little girls who are die-hard Cena fans will be able to fantasize about Cena in a PG-13 purity-ring way.
Gaaah, not on the kitchen counter you nookie monsters.
That’s where you prepare your meals!
Then for some reason we’re taken across town to two guys who we can tell are up to no good because of the ominous, tense music that plays when the camera is on them. And we sure can tell they’re bad because one of them is played by none other than the T-1000 Himself, Robert Patrick!
I don’t know about you but personally if I see Robert Patrick in a movie, I am going to sit still and take it all in. Mr. Patrick chews up the scenery at every opportunity and has a fun campy time in this role.
I didn’t catch his crony’s name, but as he bears an uncanny resemblance to New York Yankees Catcher Jorge Posada, I’ll call him “Jorge”.
Patrick, whose character name is “Rome”, enters what appears to be a jewelry/diamond store and smoothly takes over by kneeing the security guy who stands right in front of the diamond vault. I’ve been to jewelry stores and I’ve never seen a security guy right in front guarding the vault very conspicuously with his legs spread eagle but let’s just go with it.
Rome and his goons quickly take over the store and he wants to be let into the vault. So Rome takes what appears to be a female customer hostage, who panics and declares she has children and begs the man behind the vault to open up. When he does, she grabs a gun and reveals she’s part of the gang.
I know Vince was the producer, but who knew Russo was lead writer?
Rome and his cronies make off with a bunch of diamonds, but not before they blow up a cop car that, as you can see, has Rome standing RIGHT IN FRONT of it.
Thankfully, his hair is not singed nor does he suffer any serious burns. You’d think when a car blows up like the Death Star (was the car constucted of nitroclycerin?) and you’re within two feet bad things would happen, but who am I to argue with WWE Films?
BTW, this will be a running thread throughout this film. Giant explosions take place, folks are right next to them, and they wind up not dead, but rather slightly sooty, sometimes a bit sweaty.
And so far this is the 2nd giant explosion of the film but get ready for about 743 more of them, folks.
We’re drawn back into the first movie we started with (the one with Cena), where we see John Triton working as a security guard for an office building where Triton sits with his pal who he exchanges “funny” dialogue with, and when I say “funny” I mean it goes something like this:
John Triton: Blah blah blah
Friend: Heh, blah blah blah.
John Triton: ….blah blah blah?
*awkward silence and pausing for audience laughter that does not come*
Hope you liked that, as this is the dialogue pattern of most of the “comedic” exchanges you’ll find here.
Anyways, some uptight little prick who talks on his cellphone and calls his girlfriend a whore in a high-pitched excitable voice is about to be escorted out of the building but a fruckus ensues and Triton is forced to hurl him out of the big glass window in front, which results in him losing his job after one day and making the evening news.
How a Channel 5 News camera just happened to be on the scene at the moment Triton throws the little pipsqueak through the window is one of the many logical fallacies on display here.
I probably shouldn’t have even mentioned it, as now my inbox will be flooded with hate mail from Cena fans explaining that “It’s just a movie! Enjoy it ya geek!!”
Triton tells his buddy that all he knows to do is to be a marine (apparently a poor one, as he got court marshalled) and the buddy tells him he needs to get away with his wife for awhile.
Meanwhile back in the other movie that seems to be spliced in with the movie starring John Cena, Rome is about to mack with his evil Aussie girlfriend (whose accent seems to weave in and out) when he gets an angry call on his cellphone where the voice on the other end exclaims, “You’ve lost control! Have you lost your mind??! I want a cut!” and Rome calmly tells him, “I have the diamonds and power, good sir.”
Sadly, no explosion follows.
And I was all primed for it and everything too.
Oh here we go. This guy right here is one of Rome’s henchguys named Morgan. He goes to a garage to get Rome’s getaway ride and recognizes former Atlanta Falcons and Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Lincoln Kennedy as being the guy who frisks him before he enters. Lincoln denies he is who he is but Morgan insists he is who he says he isn’t is but who he says he is….*dizzy*…
Anyways, Morgan’s character and dialogue is written and acted like the typical WWE heel where you’re supposed to boo him in theory but he’s not really a scary threat because he’s constantly doing wacky goofy sitcomy humor where he says a “funny line” then pauses for a non-existant laugh track.
You know, that’s what these WWE films really need – a LAUGH TRACK. I know people from the company frequent this site and steal our ideas from time to time. Take that one, guys – it’s my gift to you.
Anyway, all Morgan’s “funny lines” consist of how he’s being held down by The Man cause he’s black, and only reminds us about 40 more times throughout the movie. For example, the owner of the garage offers him a mini-van and Morgan exclaims, “How you gonna send a brutha out in a mini-van? I’m a criminal, not a soccer mom!”
See how much better that line would be with a laugh track?
Oh, there’s also some running gag about him getting a nervous twitch about being offered “rock candy” that will surely pay off in a BIG way later.
Back to Cena’s movie, where we find he and his wife are taking a road trip to the mountains. Triton says his father used to take he and his brother to the mountains because “no one could hear us scream”.
Two choices for a joke here: either I go with “shouldn’t that be space?” or “what, was he one of Stu Hart’s kids?”
Your choice, pick whichever one you like.
Triton stops at a gas station that just happens to be the same gas station that Rome and his thugs have stopped at to gas up. Rome is approached by a state patrol cop who chats with him for a bit, while Rome attempts to play it cool but seems to be failing, and also while his hench people are all getting visibly nervous and paranoid.
For a bunch of people that just got away scot-free with armed robbery and exploding an entire city block, they sure do cave right in when they see that badge and the Erik Estrada sunglasses.
(Note from RD: Maybe they were intimidated by what is unquestionably the most boss cop car ever.)
Morgan the brutha sees Rome chatting with a cop and immediately decides to take no chances and shoots him dead in the middle of the gas station. I’m thinking that will be a problem.
Triton attempts to come to the rescue, but one fire extinguisher to his head later and his wife is taken hostage by Rome and his cronies.
Now generally, this is where you would start talking about how dumb this bad guy is, leaving Triton there alive and everything. Why I can almost hear Scott Evil right now explaining that he has a gun in his room.
But hey, Rome is no ordinary bad guy – he decides to forgo bullets and just blow the whole damn gas station up.
And yes, as you probably guessed, Triton comes out of said explosion with nary a scratch.
Triton takes the cop car (note from RD: who could blame him – that thing is Su-weet!) and gives chase while radioing in to dispatch for backup. Rome and his goons shoot up the cop car with about 900 rounds of ammo til the car is riddled with bullet holes and the front windshield has been removed completely, yet Triton is unharmed and not even breathing hard.
Dayum, I guess Cena really is Superman.
And just as a throwaway “ha ha” gag, Morgan exclaims, “This guy is like The Terminator!”, to which Rome shoots him a threatening glare in the rear-view mirror. Eh, it’s cute. That only works when the movie is successful, like you won’t find a scene in a Mike Myers movie where someone says, “Hey, let’s go watch The Cat in the Hat!”…and I don’t think you’ll find that scene in real life either…unless we’re at RD’s house.
The chase goes on for at least 25 minutes until the cop car explodes (what else?) and goes over into a ravine. Kate is convinced her husband is dead so she sasses off to Rome’s broad who gives her a few wacks to the face. Ooooo so bitchy!
A detective shows up (the same one that showed up after the jewelry store robbery) to say this sounds just like the guys that raided the jewelry store. I guess he has amazing intuitive abilities because there is never any clue as to who blew up the gas station or robbed the jewelry store. Yes, this detective has some insight indeed…but I’m getting ahead of myself.
The detective drives to the ravine where Triton’s vehicle is thought to have blown up and crashed but he finds Triton is MIRACULOUSLY still alive. The detective tells him to not get himself into any danger but Triton doesn’t give a crap, he’s gonna get his missus back.
Rome and his gang take Triton’s wife through a swamp (with all the different movies going on, I’m surprised Swamp Thing doesn’t make an appearance and redeem himself for that crappy movie with Heather Locklear).
(Note from RD: I was hoping for a Jerry Reed cameo as Amos Moses, personally.)
Morgan complains about getting blamed for everything cause he’s black. Did I miss the screen writing credit where it says “Written by Al Sharpton”? Regardless, for getting their cover blown, Rome decides to kill off Jorge who had nothing to do with it, instead of the black guy who started the whole thing and is whining about being discriminated against.
Ah well, farewell Jorge. We’ll always remember your 2006 season (btw, GO YANKEES IN ’09!).
So yeah, now everyone is just roaming through the woods. While walking through said forest, Rome gets a call on his cellphone from the same angry “you’re out of control you madman! Where’s my cut of the loot?!” guy and then another call saying his satellite dish subscription has been approved, to which Rome asks, “does that get all the premium channels?”
Oh stop, my sides. He’s an evil villain and he wants premium channels with DISH Network. Oh mercy.
And when Triton’s wife attempts a get away yet again (can’t blame a girl for trying), they share an awkward exchange where Rome says they can get together if they get rid of, then he keeps doing those obvious “over there” nods to his evil Aussie broad.
I’d continue to mock the comedy attempts, but tell me you can honestly look at that JPG to the right and not snicker a bit.
Triton continues to track the gang in the woods but he’s caught by hillbilly folk who dress like Larry the Cable Guy and have GIT R’ DONE bumper stickers on their truck. Oh God, please don’t let this turn into Deliverance.
These hillbilly folk are moonshiners who take Triton prisoner thinking he’s a cop but he wastes no time in kicking their asses with roundhouse kicks.
Maybe Cena will whip those out at Mania this year.
The gang decides to hang out in an abandoned shack in the woods that even has an old timey Arnold’s Restaurant jukebox from the 50s. It’s here that Morgan reveals he was molested by a camp counselor that offered him some rock candy and a bit of sodomy. Even as he’s revealing this information, the “Dueling Banjos” song can be heard in the background. Wow screenwriters, you set that one right up at the start, drew it out perfectly and made it pay off in a big way. Is it in Cena’s WWE Films contract that all his films must reference gay male anal rape??
But anyways, there’s no power in the place so Rome makes the brutha turn on the generator outside, where Triton dispenses with him quickly.
Goodbye, Angry Molested Brutha.
One can only hope for a Marine prequel in which your story is more thoroughly explored.
Kate decides to make her escape (yes, AGAIN) but Evil Aussie bird is right on her heels.
I only wish our pal Joey Styles was on hand to scream, CATFIIIIGGGGHHHTTTTT!!!!
Meanwhile in the shack, Triton confronts Rome who is then confronted by the detective, who is revealed to be the angry voice that kept calling Rome wanting a cut of the diamonds. Well that’s right outta left field. So many twists n’ turns! Who’da thunk it?
The detective is offed by Rome and here the climactic chase begins, but not before the abandoned shack is, yep you guessed it, BLOWN THE HELL UP. And Triton yet again cheats the firey death and gives chase again.
At this point, a feud with Kane in which he no-sells coffins set on fire is in order.
Rome and his chick hijack a semi truck so they won’t be tracked but John Triton is right on their tail. He jumps onto the semi and pulls Rome’s broad out of the window where she collides head on with an oncoming truck, which stains the diamonds with her blood.
I know that’s supposed to be a deep metaphor for something but it’s almost the end and I really don’t care.
Rome crashes the semi into the water by driving it through a burning house (seriously, I don’t think “Backdraft” had as many fires in that movie as this one) with Triton’s wife handcuffed and unable to free herself. Triton and Rome do BATTLE~! with sledgehammers (DA DA DA DA DA DAAAAAAAA, DA DA!) and chainsaws (oh man, don’t tell me Cena is gonna no-sell being chainsawed in half).
Finally, Triton is able to defeat Rome by giving him a barrage of punches that knocks him into fire and the whole place explodes while Triton dives into the water to free his wife ala Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure.
(Note from RD: a Posiedon Adventure reference? How old are you, 60?)
Triton is able to free her and revive her. YAAAYYY!! THEY’RE SAFE!! And now able to live happily ever after. BUT WAIT!! Here comes charred Rome to give the audience that last boogeyman coming back to life scare that lasts all of 30 seconds before Triton breaks his neck with a chain. “We should’ve gone to the beach”, says Triton to lighten the mood. His wife laughs and they hug as the movie ends.
Wow. That movie was…..just……not good. Not nearly as horrible as the one I sat through last week but a wasted opportunity. Sitcom dialogue you’d find in an episode of Emeril and Explosion Fu. That’s what this movie is all about. Rumor has it that this movie was originally set to star Steve Austin as Triton and Al Pacino as Rome. That’s an SNL/MAD TV sketch waiting to happen.
And from what I understand, WWE Films is all set on a sequel with Ted Dibiase Jr. called The Marine 2. I’ll be sold only on the condition that Ted Sr. is the villain and he gets to laugh every 5 minutes.
Then it’s a done deal.