I’ll admit to approaching this franchise a little bit backwards. I watched The Marine if not on release then shortly thereafter. My next film was The Marine 4: Moving Target in 2015. And I think that one was because it showed up on Now TV. So, until Summer 2018 I had not seen this, the film that introduces Mike “The Miz” Mizanin as its star. And it’d be hard to call him anything else now that he has three “Marine” films under his belt and, apparently, a fourth one on the way.
Not that this backwards way of watching the series has had any impact on my enjoyment. There’s no continuity between them whatsoever, so it’s possible to watch them in isolation and not have to worry at all about continuity or such.
The same can’t be said for the plot, which is standard action fare. The Marine 3: Homefront introduces us to Jake Carter, a marine who has just returned to his home town following a period of service. Shortly thereafter, his sister witnesses a terrorist (Neal McDonough) shoot a guy (IN THE FACE) and she is taken hostage. Working with and sometimes against the local police and Feds, Carter puts to use his own particular set of skills in order to free her.
One thing I can appreciate about the Marine franchise is its villains. They’re always inevitably set to fail, but their reasons and motivations are generally well structured and believable. Here, McDonough’s Jonah Pope (a typical example from the movie villain name generator) wants to teach the US government an example, making a point about how they never look after the little guy. Fair enough, but blowing stuff up will generally get you a prison sentence or worse. It seems that Pope didn’t read that memo.
The script has a number of double bluffs and enough twists to keep you engaged, but there’s little else to it beyond that. It’s generally by the numbers and produced on a budget. Most of the action takes place in a single location, namely the moored boat that the terrorists take residence on as they plot their nefarious scheme. From my many years of watching Stargate, it’s also obvious that filming took place in Canada. I’d recognise those forests every time.
The good news is that The Miz is far better than Ted DiBiase Jr, and I would say better than John Cena too. At least Carter has a bit of personality to him besides being a dumb jock. Now, I appreciate that Cena has gone on to develop a half decent movie career, but The Marine was not a great gateway for the showing off the stuff he’s good at. Here Carter’s character balances nicely with The Miz’s own personality, and he’s more than capable of putting on a show of physicality. It’s here in the action sequences that The Marine 3 shines, even if they are unfortunately all too brief.
As generic as it can be at times, I’d say there’s enough here to entertain. A few tweaks here and there, and maybe a slightly larger budget could have helped. As it is, it’s perfect as a mindless Friday night action movie.