Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Marine 3: Homefront & The Marine 4: Moving Target

Today I am bringing back the classic mid to late 90s TBS Thursday night special, Movies for Guys Who Like Movies. I have too many memories of watching the latest, awful episode of WCW Thunder, only to see commercials throughout it for the night’s Movies for Guys Who Like Movies selection that would immediately follow it, which was usually for some awesome campy action flick from the 80s featuring a member of The Expendables as the lead. It was a great way to wind down the night and enjoy a nonsensical action film and simply take in a barrage of bullets and explosions as I nodded off to sleep.

I am covering a pair of newer action films that are a throwback to that era, but are nowhere near as legendary. The masterminds at WWE Studios just released The Marine 4: Moving Target (trailer) last week. I have seen the first two Marine films starring John Cena and Ted Dibiase Jr. as the lead, but never got around to seeing the third installment titled, The Marine 3: Homefront (trailer). So I spent this past weekend indulging in the latest two Marine films and made sure to throw on my mindless 80s action film goggles on top of it for good measure.

The latest WWE wrestler taking the lead marine role in both of these films is former world champion and reality television star, Mike “The Miz” Mizannin. In Homefront, The Miz portrays Sgt. Jake Carter, who is on leave in his small hometown of Bridgeton when he finds himself stumbling into the middle of a messy situation. Carter’s sister, Lily (Ashley Bell) and her boyfriend Darren (Jeffrey Ballard) witness a murder at the hands of a terrorist group head up by one Jonah Pope (Neal McDonough) and are quickly taken hostage. Word gets out to Carter and he rushes in with many obstacles blocking his way to save the day in vintage 80s action film fashion.

In Moving Target, the trail of destruction that Carter left behind presumably lead to his discharge as he is now working private security. He has a less than desired first day on the job, when the security team he is part of is ambushed by a group of mercenaries headed up by a man going by Vogel (Josh Blacker). Homefront is also the first WWE Studios film to feature one of their Divas in a film, with Sumer Rae being one of the mercenaries chasing down Carter throughout the film. The mercenaries are after who Carter is sworn to protect, one Ms. Olivia Tanis (Melissa Roxburgh). The mercenaries are constantly one step behind Carter & Tanis until, wait for it, the hunters become the hunted.

Both Marine films are among the low budget, direct to video fare. WWE Studios has been making films like this for awhile now and somehow found a way to be profitable at it and thus they continue to pump their films into the marketplace. Scott Wiper makes his return to directing for WWE Studios with Homefront, which I do not mind since The Condemned is probably my favorite WWE produced film (yes, I have seen them all, one day I will do a power ranking). Homefront does a better job at establishing the characters and background before going into the action nonstop where Miz and a group of FBI Agents assault Pope’s base on an old school ferry that looks like it has seen its share of action movies. I am not looking for an academy winning plot in these type of action films by any means, but it is nice just to get a smidge of setup to get me to care for the character which Homefront does far better than Moving Target.

In Moving Target we get a brief introduction of the security team Carter is part of, and before we know it they are ambushed and are on the run throughout the rest of the film. The gunfights and action are pretty solid for both films, with both films having plenty of heated up firefights and even a couple of close hand-to-hand encounters as well. I will give the slight nod for better all around action to Homefront since it has a good range of close corridor shootouts, as well as an entertaining larger scale thugs vs. FBI shootout that brought back nostalgic moments of Lethal Weapon.

I will have to give the edge as far as casting and overall performances to Homefront as well. The Miz is surprisingly decent as Jake Carter, and dare I say it does a marginally better job than Cena and Dibiase as the head marines before him. Neal McDonough has been solid as the cheesy head villain in action movies before this, and he easily nails the antagonist role here. Vogel is an ok villain in Moving Target, but the way he is constantly second guessed by his underlings in the film does not necessarily make for a convincing villain.

Not that anyone was expecting a lot, but with all the hype WWE put into having Summer Rae in the film (it is just her and Miz on the DVD cover afterall), do not be surprised WWE treats her as an afterthought in the film much like they do the Divas division on their weekly programming. Even though she is constantly in the background as one of the mercenaries, she only has five lines of dialogue for about a total of a whopping 20 words in the film. At least she gets to have a brief fight scene with Carter that mixed up the action, but this awful bait-and-switch advertising brought back disappointing memories of WWE hyping up Behind Enemy Lines 3 by making it look like Mr. Kennedy was the lead in the trailers and film posters, when instead he was just a minor supporting role.

Both films have a small smattering of extra features. Homefront has five features totaling around 40 minutes while Moving Target has three extras totaling around 20 minutes. Of all of these I recommend checking out Shipwrecked and Casting Call on Homefront the most. The former has a great tour of the boat a good chunk of the film takes place in, while Casting Call shows how WWE had fans audition for a minor FBI Agent role in the film at Wrestlemania XXVIII Fan Axxess. Hey, that was the Mania I attended and I happened to audition for that role too! To my dismay, I did not hear back from WWE Studios to live out my dream as an extra in a Hollywood film. For Moving Target extras, I got a mild kick out of the random old on set interviews with John Cena and Ted Dibiase, along with some new clips from the Miz talking about the “legacy” of these films in The Franchise extra feature.

As you can tell, I obviously dig Homefront over Moving Target. I liked The Marine 3: Homefront for the most part, and while The Marine 4: Moving Target definitely has some drawbacks, I still had a fun time with it. Both are still decent little action film throwbacks, and if you do not mind the low budget production values and lack of major star power, you can get a decent night of old school thrills with a few beers, a bowl of popcorn and watching both of these back to back.

Other Random Backlog Movie Blogs

12 Angry Men (1957)
21 Jump Street
Angry Video Game Nerd: The Movie
Atari: Game Over
The Avengers: Age of Ultron
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Bounty Hunters
Cabin in the Woods
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Clash of the Titans (1981)
Clint Eastwood 11-pack Special
Dirty Work
Field of Dreams
Fight Club
The Fighter
For Love of the Game
Good Will Hunting
Hercules: Reborn
Man of Steel
Marine 3 & 4
Mortal Kombat
The Replacements
Rocky I-VI
Running Films Part 1
Running Films Part 2
ScoobyDoo Wrestlemania Mystery
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Source Code
Star Trek I-XII
Take Me Home Tonight
The Tooth Fairy 1 & 2
Veronica Mars
The Wrestler (2008)

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