Stars: Mike ‘The Miz’ Mizanin, Maryse Mizanin, Heath Slater, Naomi, Bo Dallas, Curtis Axel, Anna Van Hooft, Nathan Mitchell, Sandy Robson, Tony Skinner, Brad Kelly | Written by Scott Wiper, Edward McHenry, Rory McHenry | Directed by James Nunn
Fresh off the success of Scott Adkins action flick Eliminators, British director James Nunn stays with the action for the latest in the WWE Studios-produced Marine franchise, which once again stars WWE Superstar The Miz as former Marine Jake Carter. Although this time round things are a little different as the titular Marine has finally put that life behind him and returned to the US and civilised society…
Now working as an EMT, Carter (Mike “The Miz” Mizanin) finds himself holed-up in the parking garage of a fairground with his EMT partner and an injured, marked man he’s sworn to save. You see Carter’s ward is responsible forn the death of the head of a ruthless biker gang – a gang who are now bent on revenge, trapping Carter underground. With no way out and no cops in sight, Carter must use his killer Marine instincts to end the gangs rampage… or die trying!
If there’s one franchise that has remained consistent in the WWE Studios portfolio it’s The Marine. Starting out with the bombstatic original, featuring John Cena in the title role, the series has maintained a steady output – even moreso under the lead of Mike “The Miz” Mizanin, who has made the character, and the franchise, his own. Which is why I’m oddly perplexed by this latest film, Battleground.
For this time, watching The Marine 5 you can’t help but get a sneaky suspicion that – much like Die Hard With a Vengeance was originally NOT a John McClane vehicle – this film didn’t actually start out as part of the long-running Marine franchise. Two things give it away: One, setting the film at a fairground was obviously the real inspiration for the sub title “Battleground” (in a similar way that 80s thriller Slayground played on the fairground theme). And two, it seems our hero Jake Carter has lost ALL the skills he displayed in the previous two Miz-starring franchise entries. Not only does Carter get bested in most of the of hand-to-hand combat fighting, but he also can’t shoot for sh*t in this film!
To be honest, I get why they went for the latter… If our titular Marine displayed the skills he had on the previous two Miz-starring entries, this film would have probably been over in a third of the time. The need to stretch out the action, and in turn the suspense, it vital to how this film works. It’s [again] like Die Hard – only this time set in a parking garage (and later a fairground). That classic 80s film succeeded because it’s hero was vulnerable, and that’s the same vibe the filmmakers were undoubtedly going for here. Jake Carter NEEDS to be vulnerable for the story to work. If he was a killing machine a la the rest of the franchise, then the audience wouldn’t feel any empathy for him, they wouldn’t be rooting for him to win over the nasty gang of bikers he faces at all.
Speaking of bikers, the roster of villains this time round has been picked from some of the WWE’s lesser-known, at least to mainstream audiences, superstars. Heath Slater, Curtis Axel, Bo Dallas and current Smackdown Women’s Champion Naomi make up the majority of this films villainous biker crew… Bo Dallas in particular gets to shine, with a character that – honestly – he should probably bring to WWE programming. His sheer badass, take no prisoners, attitude and biker look would give him a brand new edge (and is a damn sight better than his former clean-cut “Bolieve” gimmick).
Despite the inconsistencies in characterisation, The Marine 5: Battleground is a solid, if different, entry into the long-running DTV franchise. For those who have stuck by the series there’s still plenty of action to enjoy but, and it seems odd saying this about the fifth The Marine film, this is also a perfect jumping on point for new fans. Roll on part six!
The Marine 5: Battleground is available to rent and/or buy digitally now.