Playing with Fire, or Hero for Hire?

16 Nov

Playing with Fire Movie PosterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

Most of John Cena‘s action films under the WWE Studios banner have been a hit-or-miss affair. When he’s playing a caring individual, the charisma shines. When playing military type characters, it’s easy to see why he was in Transformers: Bumblebee; he was straight and narrow. Fortunately, this character chose to side with him despite an auspicious initial meeting.

He’s hilarious to watch when pitted against youths. You see him tough as nails–not wanting to deal with them–and by the end of the film, he’s softened up. Like similar movies concerning children landing into difficult situations because the adult doesn’t understand them (Despicable Me being the best example), the heart of this movie shows how unlikely individuals find each other and become a family.

Jake “Supe” Carson (Cena) is a smoke jumper who rescues Brynn (Brianna Hildebrand), Will (Christian Convery) and Zoey (Finley Rose Slater) from a cabin fire. Until their parents can come and get them, they are under the care of this captain and crew. The kids cause a lot of trouble at the isolated station, and the only hope is in asking Dr. Amy Hicks (Judy Greer) for help. It’s assumed she knows something about motherhood.

The antics are really nothing new for those familiar enough with this sub-genre of family comedy flicks. It takes notes from other movies like Tooth Fairy (a hunky lead who knows nothing beyond the job he’s highly skilled at) or Spy Next Door (with a protagonist dealing with unruly children because of some reason). This film feels like it’s meant for Nickelodeon than the big screen. The plotting is very predictable and the only payoff here is to give viewers that cheerful happy ending.

I wanted to see more of Tyler Mane as Axe (who is mostly mute throughout the film). Add in Mark (Keegan-Michael Key) and Rodrigo (John Leguizamo)–they complete the brotherhood.

When this product is simply to show how well Cena can carry a film, he’s on the right trajectory. This multi-talented individual does not always have to be in action adventure style films. While I’m excited to see what kind of character he’ll bring to Fast and Furious 9, it’s the comedies I find him best in. He is one of the big three from the WWE arena who is nearly everywhere these days. From television presenter to singer to voice over talent, he’s just as equal in popularity as The Rock. My question is, what else does he want to do? Dancing with the Stars?

3 Stars out of 5

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