The Reunion (2011) – John Cena & Amy Smart ACTION MOVIE REVIEW

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By Geno McGahee

WWE’s John Cena has followed the path of Dwayne Johnson and is, arguably, the second most successful wrestler turned actor in Hollywood. Cena has yet to find that role though. The Rock has picked his screenplays well and has probably had more opportunities due to his overall charisma. Cena is marketed as more of a tough guy action star and it works to a great degree. His film THE MARINE showed he had a lot of potential and could have excelled that much more had he had better material to work with. One of his most recent films, THE REUNION, is a step in the right direction, with a good cast and with a focus on each person’s strengths.

Sam Carey (Cena) is a cop that has been released from the force because of his temper and aggression. His estranged brother, Leo (Ethan Embry), is a bounty hunter. They have a sister, Nina (Amy Smart), and a recently released from prison, younger half-brother, Douglas (Boyd Holbrook). This is a broken family, but when their father dies, they reunite at the funeral and learn that they have been left money. Each will receive 3 million dollars, but they have to work together for two years in a business. Initially, Sam was not big on the idea and storms out, but Nina proves to be the glue that keeps this family together. Douglas wants a family, considering that he was raised in foster care and group homes, and Leo just wants the money no matter what it takes. This is a personality clash across the board.

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In the meantime, billionaire computer CEO, Willis (Gregg Henry), is kidnapped from his limo and brought to Mexico by some bad guys, including Canton (Michael Rispoli), who is no stranger. Canton is one of the people that got screwed over by Willis’s cutthroat and borderline illegal tactics in business. Now, he’s holding him for ransom for 500 million dollars. There is an award for information leading to the safe return of Willis of 5 million, which is very appealing to Leo, who is 200 grand in the hole. Reluctantly, Sam agrees to join this mission to save Willis and Douglas eagerly tags along.

In Mexico, they meet up with Theresa (Lela Loren), and after her grandfather is murdered by the same group that is holding Willis, she joins the fight. Sam and Leo begin mending fences and their past abuse comes out. They are becoming brothers again and Douglas is learning what being a brother is through the experience. As they take on this group, they encounter another evil group as the drug lord, Verdugo (J.D. Garfield), and he now has his sights set on the reward money. It becomes a big mess and leads to an explosive and action-packed conclusion. The traumatic event turns the broken family into a tight family and they eagerly await their inheritance, but there’s one last snag…

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THE REUNION was a very decent film, but it just seemed to be missing something. The cast was very good. Cena played the tough guy role with added comedic moments that really worked. Embry is always good and played his role incredibly well. He was the likable jerk. Amy Smart was barely in it, but she served her purpose. She has a natural likability and it was easy to see her in the role of nurturing sister. Holbrook, for his role, did very well also. This was the right cast. I should also mention Rispoli. His over the top performance kept the film going.

The elements were here for a good movie and I guess “good” is as far as I’d go to describe it. It’s unremarkable and suffers from repetition at times. Had the story been developed a little more and the film been tightened up in areas, this could have been notable, but it’s now rather forgettable. The cast tried very hard to make it the best it could be and they succeeded but the foundation wasn’t strong. I recommend this, but you’re not missing much if you don’t see it. Damn….a definite missed opportunity here.

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Rating: 5.5/10