As we near closer to WrestleMania 33 and the showdown between WWE superstars and Hollywood actors John Cena and The Miz (along with their significant others), I find it hard to believe they haven't made The Marine more of an issue. The WWE's flagship film franchise began with Cena, and it was basically 90-minutes of him slo-mo diving away from explosions. Following the DiBiase Jr. blip of a sequel, Miz has taken over and made these movies his own. He is THE guy when it comes to leading WWE's highest-grossing and longest-running series of movies. They aren't very good, but dammit, The Miz owns them and Cena doesn't. Who's really the face that runs the place?
In a way it's sad that The Marine 5: Battleground only made me think about things from a WWE TV perspective and not about the actual story, which is again crap, but in a way that's also why this one is slightly more entertaining than the rest. For starters, it boasts an insane amount of WWE superstars. Basically, The Marine 5 is The Miz in an extreme rules handicap match against the Social Outcasts. If that means anything to you then we share a disturbing WWE fanaticism that makes us want to watch Bo Dallas, Heath Slater, and Curtis Axel as badass members of a violent biker gang. Seeing them as tough guys, far from their loser counterparts in the squared circle, will be worth the price all by itself.
The Miz is back as ex-Marine Jake Carter, who after causing havoc as a private security agent in The Marine 4, is inexplicably now an EMT. Wherever this guy goes trouble follows, and soon he and his partner (Anna Van Hooft) are trapped in a parking garage as a crew of bikers comes gunning for them. Why? The film begins with the gang's leader being gunned down right outside their club, only for the two culprits to escape after taking a few bullets. It was them who called the ambulance, putting the EMTs in harm's way. Try to do a good deed and all it gets you is the cast of Sons of Anarchy breathing down your neck.
Little do these guys know that Jake is no ordinary EMT, and killing him proves to be a difficult task. Okay, first off, The Miz has gotten much better when it comes to screen combat, ironically in the film that has less of it than previous Marine movies. He's growing as an actor in a role that doesn't necessarily demand it. He'll hate to hear that Cena has leaped bounds ahead of him at this point, but oh well. Second, it's impossible not to laugh at the rest of the casting. Bo Dallas, Mr."BOLIEVE" himself, is the main villain! How are we supposed to buy one of the softest, skinny-fat superstars in the WWE as some vicious killer? Simple: we can't. Curtis Axel actually refers to himself as "The Ax Man", just as he does on TV. And he pulls off a nasty German suplex, a move he hasn't had a chance to do in a WWE ring since 2010. And Heath Slater...well, he's pretty much a forgotten man just as his tag team with Rhyno is right now.
There are other WWE superstars who appear, like former Women's Champion Naomi as one of the gang's "prospects". And I hope they make a Total Divas episode all about the Miz's wife, Maryse, who shows up for about 30 seconds to be saved from a literal ton of bricks by her husband. Has John Cena ever saved Nikki Bella from falling cement? I don't think so. Some hero he is.
Director James Nunn's strength isn't necessarily in the action, which is choreographed without much of a signature. He's much better at drawing out tension from the claustrophobic setting. About 80% of the film takes place in that multi-level garage and it never gets dull, a credit to Nunn's direction and Luke Bryant's cinematography. However I have no idea what screenwriters Ed and Rory McHenry were thinking by, for some reason that escapes me, shifting the action to an abandoned carnival which is just too cliché for words. Was there some Ferris Wheel tax credit in Vancouver that WWE wanted to take advantage of?
Rating: 2 out of 5