This Week: The Reunion (2011)
Tagline: “Last Chance. Long Odds.”
WWE Superstar: John Cena
Also Starring: Ethan Embry, Boyd Holbrook, Amy Smart
Synopsis: Sam and Leo Cleary have grown up hating each other, and neither likes their juvenile delinquent kid brother, Douglas, to whom they’ve only recently been introduced. The sons share the same father, a womanizing drunk, but all have different mothers. Their father died a rich man and when they’re brought together by their sister Nina to learn which of them will inherit the old man’s fortune, they are handed an unpleasant surprise. A requirement of the will is that the three estranged siblings go into business together as bail bondsmen. Their first job is to bring in a parole violator who has left Leo with a $250,000 debt. Their search will take them into the mountains of Mexico where they encounter a drug lord and uncover a kidnapping plot, masterminded by an embittered entrepreneur that will endanger them all. (via IMDB)
Watch It: Netflix / Amazon / YouTube
Much has been written about John Cena’s Hollywood resurgence in the past two years. Everyone made fun of his early WWE Studios movies like 2006’s The Marine and 2009’s 12 Rounds, but hardly anyone has a bad word to say about his roles in Trainwreck and Sisters, as well as his hosting of the ESPYs, the Kids Choice Awards and even SNL. So just what the hell happened between 2009 and 2015?
Well, for one thing, The Reunion happened. Released in October 2011, this was his fourth and final WWE Studios vehicle, and it is his worst-reviewed film to date, with a whopping 8% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Even WWE jumped ship on this film — how many commercials do you remember seeing for this film during episodes of Raw? My personal number is zero. Maybe this dud finally scared him straight until Amy Schumer called him a half-decade later.
The Reunion opens with Donald Trump some rich asshole riding in a limousine reading The Wall Street Journal while he ignores his kid Barron, who just wants to know what he does for a living. After he drops his kid off at school, he is suddenly kidnapped in broad daylight by… well, some dudes of dubious ethnic origin.
In the meantime, we are introduced to each member of the Cleary family. There’s Doug (Narcos‘ Boyd Holbrook), who just got out of prison; Leo (Ethan Embry of That Thing You Do! and Empire Records fame), a bail bondsman; Nina (Road Trip‘s Amy Smart), who… presumably has a career, but we’re never told what it is; and last but certainly not least, Sam (John Cena), a police officer who is in the process of being suspended from the force after attacking an acquitted child molester outside a courtroom. Sadly, the character of Beverly did not make the final cut of the film.
So! The reason we meet all the Clearys in quick succession is because they each learn their father has died — although apparently he was a bit of a womanizer, as each Cleary child has a different mother (and up until the funeral, none of the other Clearys have even met Doug). After each kid pays their respects (with Amy Smart’s line reading being particularly atrocious), they then learn that their father left behind a massive fortune of $12 million, to be divided four ways, but there’s a catch: Nina says according to the will, they all have to work together in a family business for two years to earn the money, because he felt bad that none of his kids ever got to know each other that well. All three brothers balk at this idea initially, but eventually they talk it out over some beers and a punch to the face.
Leo is especially excited to get this family business underway, because he’s on the hook for $250,000 if one of his bailskips named Rodriguez doesn’t show up at court next week. And, coincidence of coincidences, Rodriguez is part of the crew that kidnapped the rich asshole from the beginning of the movie (whose name is apparently Kyle). So the brothers decide to fly to Mexico City to locate a stripper named Angelina who used to date Rodriguez. (For some reason, Nina doesn’t have to be a part of the family business, so we don’t see her again for nearly the rest of the movie.)
Angelina the stripper starts coming onto Doug, which makes a plus-sized local come after him. John Cena kicks his ass. (Sorry, I can’t call John Cena by any other name than John Cena. I mean, his name is John Cena.) Doug meets up with Angelina later for some alone time in her bedroom, just in time for Rodriguez to show up and pull a gun on him. John Cena pulls a gun on him and shoots him dead. There goes the bail money! Now, the trio’s new plan is to find the kidnapped rich asshole and get the $5 million reward.
Clearly, John Cena is the alpha male here, but the power structure flips as we learn that TB Player is fluent in Spanish, which allows him to somehow meet another woman named Theresa who also has connections with Rodriguez. But before she takes them to him, the corrupt Mexican police pick all three brothers up and take them to a drug kingpin named Verdugo, who gives them 24 hours to take care of their business or be killed. This whole thing is escalating rather dramatically, no?
We jump back to Theresa’s house, where one of Verdugo’s thugs breaks in and gets confronted by my current favorite WWE Studios trope, Old Person With A Shotgun. We previously saw this in Bending The Rules, and just like in that film, Old Person With A Shotgun gets killed nearly instantly. RIP Old Person With A Shotgun.
The brothers go back to their hotel, where some CM Punk-looking dude in a grey hoodie and bags around his eyes blows their hotel room up. He also works for Verdugo, I think? This movie really doesn’t do a very good job explaining what the f*ck is actually happening.
The Clearys end up breaking into some sort of weapons cache and load themselves up with machine guns and grenades. Seems like a shit-ton of overkill for two small-time kidnappers, but okay. They end up on a ranch with Theresa. Doug, the heartthrob of the trio, manages to tame a wild horse. It’s a metaphor, right? I’m pretty sure it’s a metaphor. All three dudes plus Theresa put on cowboy hats and head out to find the kidnappers. John Cena should literally never wear a cowboy hat.
Theresa and Leo get jumped by some of Verdugo’s goons, but Doug shows up and helps save the day. Then Cena returns from who knows where doing who knows what, still wearing a cowboy hat. Yeesh.
The next morning, Cena steals himself away in a pickup truck that is headed toward some sort of gas depot where, presumably, the rich asshole is being held capitive. While the truck is in motion, Cena takes out the passenger, pulls a gun on the driver then puts on a bigger, blacker cowboy hat. Like, I’m pretty sure he stole this out of the Undertaker’s personal collection.
Cena’s deadpan, Schwarzenegger-esque delivery of his dialogue as he points a handgun at a baddie’s skull — “I see the future. You’re not in it” — is all sorts of incredible. Immediately thereafter Cena takes a bullet to the bicep but totally no-sells it, instead chucking a grenade and blowing up low rent CM Punk. The kidnappers, who are never even given names, flee and leave the rich asshole behind, because they already got their multi-million-dollar wire transfer. In the meantime, the rich asshole is left to Skype with his son and tells him literally nothing of importance. Great screenplay we got here.
Doug heads off to try to track down one of the bad guys so he can avenge the death of Old Man With A Shotgun (aka Theresa’s dad), at the same time when Verdugo shows up to the fuel depot and commandeers the prisoner from the kidnappers. Doug and his miracle horse cut off the bad guy’s truck and gun down the driver, who somehow survives after rolling the truck and getting shot, and the two get into a brief knife fight. Then we get a sudden fade to black, like there was a commercial break or something. Maybe he was in a rest hold? The Reunion rolls on!
Doug wakes up surrounded by his brothers and Theresa, and bickering commences as to whether or not they should try to capture the kidnappers. Cena insists they go after the kidnappers because he “can’t stop being a cop.” Leo is having none of it, accusing Cena of abandoning him and Nina when they were kids. Cena says he had to leave, otherwise he would’ve killed their dad himself. Oh, I can cut the tension with… I dunno, something super-dull? (Perhaps a Blu-ray copy of The Reunion?)
Cena heads out after the kidnappers but little does he know that the kidnappers turn on each other, with the second-in-command turning heel on the leader and executing him. Cena hears the gunshot, tracks the remaining kidnappers down then leaps onto a hovering helicopter and rappels down the line to take out the remaining anonymous bad guy. The dude then raises his gun painfully slowly to allow for Ethan Embry to magically show up, shoot and kill him. They celebrate, which is weird because they just killed a bunch of guys for money. WWE babyfaces, everybody!
The brothers return from their Mexican murder vacation and meet up with Nina to celebrate their newfound bond. Nina confesses that there actually was no inheritance after all. She says, “I’m sorry, but does the end justify the means?” Uh, lady, your brothers just went up against a band of kidnappers and a Mexican drug cartel because of your bullsh*t idea to bring your family together. Pretty sure it does not justify it.
So! We’ve reached the end. In Pro Wrestling Movie Club, we have three specific questions that must be asked at the conclusion of each film:
1. Is The Movie Objectively Any Good? No. No, man. Shit! No, man. I believe you’d get your ass kicked saying something like that, man.
2. Is The WWE Superstar Any Good In It? Prior to Trainwreck, John Cena could literally only play himself, and that is no different in The Reunion. If you like it when Cena gets super-serious in the ring (though minus calling anyone “Jack” and/or saying, “Fine speech”), you might derive enjoyment from his star-dulling performance here.
3. Would I Be Embarrassed To Have A Friend Find A Copy In My Blu-Ray Collection? Given my well-known adoration of both That Thing You Do! and professional wrestling, I don’t think anyone would even think twice if they came across this while house-sitting. Hopefully, they don’t actually watch it.
Next Week: I watch Mr. Kennedy’s turn as an action star in Behind Enemy Lines: Colombia