Ostensibly anti-“don’t ask, don’t tell” agitprop, A Marine Story defuses any political or dramatic power with plodding exposition and frequent, lurid leaps into cheesy B-movie conventions. Middle-aged Major Alexandra Everett (Dreya Weber) returns to her Marine Corps clan’s native central California town, pulling the sheets off the furniture in an otherwise empty hilltop home, and telling friends she’s returned from her fourth deployment to Iraq with an honorable discharge. Incapacitating a thieving meth head at her very first convenience-store stop, she’s soon charged with aiding his accomplice, sullen 20-year-old Saffron (Paris Pickard), with preparing for her plea-copped entry into USMC basic training. Writer-director Ned Farr crudely sketches the two women’s so-hostile-they’ll-inevitably-come-to-an-understanding relationship solely with DI Alex supervising physical drills, leaden sniping (“Give me total submission or get gone!” “What’s next, Major Bitch?”), and unresolved grief for their dead mothers.
Farr fares no better with Alex’s other crises, as through flashbacks and heart-to-hearts with old friends it’s revealed that same-sex indiscretions precipitated her “separation” from the Marines under DADT. Weber, a formidable physical presence who’s stranded by the two-dimensional surroundings, plays one freshly conceived moment in awkwardly chatting up a woman at her first lesbian bar; she never votes for president, Alex stammers, “because it’s best not to get invested in outcomes.” With A Marine Story‘s penchant for silliness like its heroine’s bone-snapping bar fight with some sexist goons (who nevertheless end up as her drinking buds) and her climactic assault on the meth users’ HQ, it’s easy to avoid investing in its resolution, even before its pat restoration of Alex to service in a different uniform.