Of all the wrestlers-turned-actors in WWE Films I might be most excited for Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. Part of it being because for whatever reason I suspect he’s one of the better actors I’ll have to watch (that or I have a grip of awful movies to look forward to). The other being that I’m just a fan of the guy in general. Since his WWE debut in 2004 he has slowly become one of the best personalities in wrestling today. In fact if you look at his in-ring achievements he has accomplished quite a lot including being a WWE World championship, headlined Wrestlemania, an intercontinental championship run, a US title reign and multiple runs as a tag team champion. While his career has faltered at times he remains one of my favorite heels in the WWE today. He just does the arrogant heel role so well with his forays into “Hollywood” being the perfect catalyst for his character. Now will this translate to the big screen? I’m not sure but I’m way more excited than I should be to find out.
The Marine 3: Homefront
Wrestler- The Miz
Wrestling Moves Used- 0
Real Stars- Neal McDonough, Ashley Bell
Returning home when on leave Jake Carter (The Miz) is having trouble adjusting to a normal life. When his sister (Ashley Bell) witnesses a murder she is kidnapped by domestic terrorist Jonah Pope (Neal McDonough). When the FBI and the local police are of little help it is up to Jake to save his sister. So essentially the same plot as the Jason Statham vehicle Homefront that came out that same year.
Now to be fair The Marine 3 came out first so I highly doubt they were going for a full on mockbuster like The Asylum would do. Still I can certainly say it has the feel of a low-budget Asylum feature and I put a lot of that on writer-director Scott Wiper. A veteran of WWE Studios (he directed future Wrestling is Reel entry The Condemned) he just isn’t all that good. For an action movie there is a pretty significant lack of action. Given it does not have to be Crank but having to wait 20 minutes for anything resembling a fight seems a bit off. What we get instead is some fairly cliché family drama. This glacial pace continues until about the last half hour. The action is fine for what it is but Wiper has a weird way of filming the scenes. They have this very rough, home camcorder look to it. Was this intentional? Did they run out of money? Whatever it is it looks really awful.
Despite these flaws the cast does their damndest to keep the whole thing together. At the forefront of this is our star Mike “The Miz” Mizanin. Now as great as he is as a bad guy in WWE he is absolutely horrid as a good guy. Maybe it’s the type of charisma he has but he just isn’t good in that role in wrestling. As it turns out he is probably the best lead in a Marine movie yet. Given he is not given much to work with but he does a better job at emoting and doing drama than both John Cena and Ted DiBiase Jr. I was also surprised how adept he was at the action aspect. While you don’t look at The Miz and immediately think “action star” he is surprisingly believable in the role. All of his hand-to-hand work looked fine and seeing him carrying guns wasn’t as awkward as I imagined it would be.
It certainly helps that he is surrounded by a good cast. Actor Neal McDonough makes for a great villain, certainly more memorable than what we got in the last film. Playing a political extremist he is a bad guy without going over-the-top like Robert Patrick. While he is certainly a bad guy McDonough brings a relatability to the role that makes you almost sympathize with him. Certainly more complex than you would expect from most WWE films. Ashley Bell plays the sister of The Miz who gets taken hostage. While not given too much of note to do she brings the right amount of brattiness to the character without it becoming grating. In fact the rest of the cast is just as good now that I think about it. None of the cast is necessarily stellar in their roles but I wouldn’t say they are awful either. They are certainly better than some of the acting we have seen in the past.
As much of a fan as I am of The Miz I was still shocked by how good this movie was. Despite not exactly looking the part he made a better action star than I thought he would. So much so that I consider him the best lead of The Marine franchise so far. I think with the right crew he could be in a good action flick. Unfortunately The Marine 3: Homefront was written and directed by Scott Wiper. Maybe he has shown more in other movies but he was a hindrance for this particular movie. His generally boring script and his weird directing style just brought things down a notch. As it is The Marine 3: Homefront is a solid, if lacking at times, offering.
It seems I’m not the only one who dug Miz’s performance because he returned for The Marine 4 two years later. An interesting movie since, for the most part, WWE films seem to be one and done. Clearly they have some faith in him (and it helps that these movies benefit his WWE persona). Either way not only do we have The Miz but WWE Diva Summer Rae making her film debut in The Marine 4. In all honesty I have no opinion on her one way or the other. While she’s been around since 2013 she really hasn’t made much of a mark in the WWE. She was fine as a dance partner for Fandango but has done little of note otherwise. Could this be where she finally makes an impact on me? Spoiler alert: nope.
The Marine 4: Moving Target
Wrestler- The Miz, Summer Rae
Wrestling Moves Used- 1
Real Stars- Nobody
Having left military service Jake Carter (The Miz) is now working for a private security firm. Hired to protect a whistleblower named Tanis the two are soon attacked by mercenaries (including Summer Rae) hired to kill them. With few people he can trust Carter must trust Tanis any way he can. There is a severe lack of explosions.
Basically they have gone from having the plot of Jason Statham vehicle Homefront to being a direct-to-video version of the Transporter series. Luckily director Scott Wiper and we have an honest to goodness director. This time around they have enlisted director William Kaufman and it’s certainly an improvement. Like The Marine 2’s Roel Reiné Kaufman is a veteran of the direct-to-video market with movies like Sinners & Saints, One in the Chamber and Jarhead 3: The Siege. And just like Reiné before him he brings the knowledge on how to film a lower budgeted movie. This time featuring shoot outs, hand to hand combat and even some First Blood style traps. More importantly besides the occasional bit of splattering CG blood the whole thing never looks cheap. Now there are some pretty awkward scene transitions but it looks good for something whose main distribution was the cheap rack at Wal-Mart.
The Miz returns and I think he kept up the momentum from the last film for the most part. Even though the role is less meaty character wise he pulls off the action just as well. I will say I noticed something I have dubbed Miz Face. As mentioned before he has quite the emotive face and it is perfect for pro wrestling. The movies, not so much. It’s fine when he’s just talking or delivering one liners but every now and then it looks silly like during an action scene. It doesn’t kill the scene but it can look ridiculous sometimes. Then he something insanely badass like kill a guy using the Dragon Sleeper and all is forgiven.
I would go into Summer Rae’s film debut but in all honesty it doesn’t amount to much. She is a part of the group of mercenaries and does little of note. In fact I counted and she has a total of 4 lines throughout the whole film. If it matters she does fine with what she is given. The same can be said of the rest of the supporting cast now that I think about it. Never given too much character-wise they are generally broad action movie stereotypes. You have the weaselly villain, the evil mercenary, incompetent local police and so on. The only person to stand out is Olivia Tanis and that’s mostly because she’s annoying. She looked like a bootleg Bella Swan she had the obnoxious personality to match. Surely after Miz saved you for the third or fourth time you’d trust him a bit. Nope, she pistol whips him instead. It leads to a fun action scene in a police station but surely there was a less irritating way to get there. As much as I complain though I can easily look past these flaws because the movie is fun. Yeah the characters are clichés but they’re fun clichés. Nobody is really over the top with their performances and they all fill their role quite well. While not as memorable as Neal McDonough they made for a solid group of baddies.
It took a while but it looks like we finally have it. After three movies and nearly a decade of tinkering I think we have the closest we will get to the perfect The Marine movie. The Marine 4: Moving Target takes what worked in the past films and puts them together to make a fun action movie. It won’t win any awards but it doesn’t need to. With some enjoyable fights, amusing performances and the occasional crazy kill it’s the perfect time killer. And really that’s all I ever wanted out of The Marine franchise.