WWE has carved out a movie business for itself, first producing The Marine starring Jon Cena back in 2006. We're up to a third sequel and The Marine 4: Moving Target is out now on Blu-ray, DVD and Digital HD. WWWE wrestlers Mike "The Miz" Mizanin and Summer Rae are back for another go-round, repeating their The Marine 3: Homefront roles as Jake Carter and Rachel Dawes.
This time, Jake has secured work as a private security contractor after leaving service and he's tasked with protecting a woman set to testify in a criminal investigation against corrupt defense contractors. The bad guys want to take out the witness and Jake and Rachel have to take on an evil mercenary force to save the day.
This one is straight-to-video but, as we've pointed out before around here, a lot of these low-budget thrillers have more heart and fire than the big theatrical action pictures the studios are making these days. Mike and Summer called us to chat about WWE's appreciation for the military and the new movie.
So the first question our audience always wants me to ask, Military.com, we're mostly veterans and active duty military, so do either of you have connections to the military personally or through your family?
MIKE MIZANIN: My family has not been in the military, but Jeff Boskovitch, one of my best friends from Normandy High School, was shot down in Afghanistan a few years ago. Every Sunday, I would have people over to watch WWE or WCW or ECW, and he was one of those guys. Jeff went over there and ended up being a Marine sniper and ended up getting shot down. It was really sad for all of us, but he's a hero.
SUMMER RAE: I'm from North Carolina, so I have a lot of friends that I went to high school with that are serving right now at Fort Bragg and a lot of the camps around me.
So this is an interesting phenomenon, I guess, that WWE has become the producer of one of the most popular military-themed movie series. And you get to play the role for a second time. You're the first guy to do two movies. So you feel like there's a close connection between the WWE and the military? Is that a part of your culture in your organization?
MIKE: With WWE, we are so appreciative of our troops. Every year we do Tribute to the Troops, where we'll go to some camp or fort in America. We've also been to Afghanistan and Iraq during the wars and put on shows over there to entertain the troops.
I've had the opportunity to go to Iraq and Afghanistan and see the life that an armed forces soldier really lives and I tip my cap to each and every one of them. Not only are they in a warzone, risking their life, but there is really nothing to do in those camps but work and workout. If the internet is hopefully working, they get to do that. I went to a camp where there was no running water, where they had to do #1 in little tubes and #2 in like WAG BAGs and then take these bags out into the field and set them on fire. It was just an incredible thing to see the sacrifice they go through to protect our families and our friends.
I remember talking to one of the guys when I was in Bahrain. He was on an aircraft carrier and I asked, “Why did you do this? Why did you become a soldier?” And he said, “I was working at Lids and I just got my girlfriend at the time pregnant and we found out that it was gonna be a daughter and I wanted her to be proud of me. I wanted her to able to go to show and tell and to be able to tell everyone that her dad is doing something noble, something good, something that makes a difference in our world. And so I became a solider.” That’s just an incredible, incredible story.
Those are the stories that we get to hear whenever we do those USO Tours or the Tribute to the Troops. It's incredible, man.
SUMMER: Vince McMahon is really committed to supporting the military. When I first got on the main WWE roster, the #1 thing that I was super excited about was Tribute to the Troops. And the first one that I went to was two Tributes ago, when we were in Washington. There wasn’t a girls' match and Fandango and I were the only women on and I just felt so special. There were so many kids and women there with their friends and family. It was great that we could bring the smiles to the family's faces for that night.
In December, I actually got to go to Kuwait with Vince. He picks a couple people each year to go. My first year I had really wanted to go and so this yearI was so excited and I was so thankful that he chose me, but I don’t think I realized how much the trip would reward me and how much the experience would give me just being over there for five days.
We'd have meet and greets for 1500 people at a time and every single person that we met was so elated to meet us and was so excited to meet us. And I felt the same for them. Why are they excited to meet me? I'm so honored just to be here.
A couple of them said, “I’ve seen Marine 3. I can't wait to see Marine 4.” Really? That’s crazy that I'm part of a movie that’s liked by guys who give so much for our rights in this country. So it was a very eye-opening experience, but it was very humbling and I just feel fortunate to be able to see that first hand.
So talk about the plot and the story and what you're doing differently in "Marine 4" versus "Marine 3,"
In Marine 3, you kind of got to know Jake Carter. He's from a small town, he has two sisters, and you got to know the character more. On Marine 4, you know the character and now he is going out into the real world. He finds a job at a private security firm where he has to protect a whistleblower. She has some secrets that the bad guys do not want to get out and my job is to protect her at all costs.
People in the military love to watch movies like this over and over and pat of the fun is taking apart the technical stuff. That’s part of the fun for them.
MIKE: That’s why I had a guy on set to train me as much as possible. I mean I put so much time into really trying to make it as authentic as possible. Granted, I'm not a Marine. I know I'm not a Marine. You know I didn’t have to go over to Iraq and Afghanistan. I mean you guys are the true, real heroes, but you know I did the best I possibly could with the time that I was given to really hone in and try to make it as good as possible. The film critics can say all they want. I can care less what the film critics say. The real critics that I care about are what our Armed Forces think.
SUMMER: So it's funny, one of our security guys at WWE is a Marine. He goes overseas for two months at a time. He gave Mike so much crap for Marine 3.
MIKE: I was shadowing him the entire time because his job in private security makes him exactly who Jake Carter is now. He has to make sure and protect everyone, so it's funny, you know, just talking with him, getting his take on our movie.
SUMMER: This time Mike was like, “You just wait. I'm gonna give you the copy of Marine 4 and you tell me if I did better.”