DVD Release Date: Tuesday, September 28, 2010
After two attempts at turning John Cena into an action star (The Marine and 12 Rounds), his third go-around with WWE Studios took a bit of a different turn.
This time around Cena is put into a supporting role in a sports drama, and the sport is wrestling. Now I know Cena wasn’t an amateur grappler the likes of Kurt Angle or even Chad Gable, but it’s not too much of a stretch for him here.
Cena plays Mike Chetley, the older brother of Cal Chetley (Devon Graye, known primiarly as the teenage Dexter in Showtime’s “Dexter). Cal is our hero here, a skinny, awkward teenager that gets picked on by bigger kids at school. He lives alone with his mother Sharon (the always delightful Patricia Clarkson) and hangs out with his best friend Luli Stringfellow (Madeleine Martin from “Californication”). At the onset of the story knows very little about his estranged brother. What Cal does know, is that both his brother and his father were wrestlers.
Once Cal finally gets fed up with getting pushed around, he decides to join the wrestling team. Coach Tennent (John Posey) is supportive but not overly inspirational, and his performance strikes the right chord without getting overly sappy. Most team members are annoyed. His mother is terrified that she will lose him to the sport just like she did her first son. But Cal is determined.
Cal decides he needs a trainer to really make his time in wrestling worthwhile. He tracks down his brother, who is at least two or three times his size. Mike is initially hesitant, as he’s in a bad place in his life and doesn’t want to invite Cal into that. Cal persists, and Mike agrees to train his brother.
“Legendary” more or less follows the sports drama formula from here, and it works well enough. Clarkson is a real pro, and she helps elevate Cena in their scenes together. Cena is solid in his first dramatic performance, but certainly nothing that would cause Oscar voters to take notice. Graye and Martin have an affable chemistry together, and the film moves along at a brisk pace. Danny Glover pops up as Harry “Red” Newman, a random townsperson that Cal runs into while fishing. Of course, this character isn’t random, but if you’ve seen a movie before I’m sure you’ll figure out the connection.
While veteran TV director Mel Damski doesn’t take too many risks with this story, it’s pleasant enough in a TV-movie kind of way. Clarkson and Glover are a step above the usual WWE Studios casts, and help elevate the pedestrian material.