I guess there must be a healthy audience for The Marine franchise, since we’re up to the third film, Homefront, with more probably on the way. The basic formula was established with the 2006 theatrically-released original. Cast a WWE superstar in the title role and throw him into a perilous situation. The first one starred John Cena. Next up was the direct-to-video The Marine 2 (2009), which starred Ted DiBiase, Jr.
Now we have The Marine 3: Homefront, with Mike “The Miz” Mizanin stepping in as Sergeant Jake Carter to kick some ass against a domestic terrorist group. The group, led by Jonas Pope (Neal McDonough), apparently wants to restructure American society to knock rich CEOs and the like off their pedestals. But initially Jake just wants to enjoy some much needed time off after a lengthy deployment. Since their parents died, Jake has basically been his sister’s caretaker. But Amanda (Camille Sullivan) and Lilly (Ashley Bell) are grown up (in real life, Sullivan is actually older than Mizanin by a few years) and they don’t need their big brother looking out for them quite so much.
For a short while, it seems Homefront is interested in exploring the dynamic between an overprotective brother who can’t seem to let go of his assumed paternal role. Amanda and Lilly love Jake, but feel he has little right to act as their guardian since he’s been away for so long. Some emotional problems are hinted at, especially with the more rebellious Lilly. She’s taken up with a ne’er do well named Darren (Jeffrey Ballard) and resentment quickly sets in when Jake immediately expresses strong disapproval.
Such character development is quickly dropped when Lilly and Darren are kidnapped after witnessing Jonas and his men conducting nefarious business in a junkyard. Lilly manages to call Jake, who springs into action. Whatever flirtations with social commentary that screenwriters Declan O’Brien and Scott Wiper (who also directed) may have had in mind—they’re out the window as well. A broken down ferry boat serves as the primary location for the non-stop action of the film’s third act.
Mizanin does what his role requires, while McDonough goes marginally above the call of duty as the main bad guy. As we learn in the special features, this was a 20-day shoot on a tight budget. If you like Mizanin or the earlier films in the series, there’s no reason you shouldn’t give this one a spin.
The digital cinematography looks great on Blu-ray. It’s not an artfully shot film, but the 1080p, AVC-encoded transfer is as strong as one would expect from a recent production. The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack is fine too. If anything, it’s a little thin in the lower frequencies. But dialogue and effects are clear and well-balanced throughout.
If The Marine 3: Homefront shines particularly in any department, it’s the supplementary material that’s geared towards fans of Mizanin. Several short but unusually informative featurettes not only convey the challenges and ingenuity involved in making a low-budget action movie, but also the enthusiasm Mizanin brought to the set. He seems well aware that his lead role might wind up being a once-in-a-lifetime experience. His lack of pretension carried over into his performance, which won’t win any awards but avoids being an embarrassment.