The Marine 2 (2009)

(On DVD, June 2011) The original The Marine wasn’t much more than a forgettable action B movie, and that may explain why this sequel feels pretty good, even though it went Direct to Video.  Taking the basic plot of the first film (Marine rescues girlfriend from clutches of bad guys, gun-fights, explosions, etc.) but with new characters, structure and setting, The Marine 2 daringly moves the action to a resort in Thailand.  After the protagonist’s wife is taken hostage, our protagonist spends the rest of the picture killing bad guys; it pretty much ends like you’d expect.  There normally wouldn’t be much more to say about a low-budget action film, but this one actually seems to have good production values and an imaginative director who knows what he’s doing: The first few minutes in Thailand offer some really spectacular scenery, while the action sequences are better-directed than most action films there says.  Director Roel Reiné is fond of using lengthy shots, and as a result one hand-to-hand fight is far more interesting to watch than you’d expect.  Most of his action sequences show a good sense of geography, and it looks as if he was able to push the limits of his budget.  This doesn’t make The Marine 2 a good film: the dialogue is average, all-American-boy-hero-killer Ted DiBiase Jr. is bland as the lead, and there’s a mid-movie lull in which the hero spends 40 minutes going back to the resort to kill more terrorists without much by way of plot progression.  Still, it does make of The Marine 2 one of the increasingly common DTV semi-sequels that have at least some entertainment value, even in isolated bits and pieces.  At a time where theaters and movie-rental chains are getting marginalized as movie distribution channels, non-awful DTV films are a significant development.

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