G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Posted in Reviews by - August 26, 2023
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Taking its cues from another almighty yawn of an action franchise based on a Hasbro toy – Transformers – this live-action debut for the G.I. Joe brand somehow manages to be incredibly annoying, loud, and boring all at the same time. The Mummy filmmaker Stephen Sommers attempts to inject a fun sense of James Bond-like jeopardy into proceedings – aided by maniacal villains hellbent on world domination, stealing nuclear warheads fitted with weird nanotechnology and launching terror from their underwater bunker – but the film never quite settles into a groove, with literally every kind of spectacle thrown at the screen in the absence of any decent storyline, character development or script. The action moves from scenes involving flying armies of ‘Joes’ wearing indestructible suits and invisibility cloaks to underwater boat battles and, in one scene, the almost complete destruction of the Eiffel Tower. A surprisingly A-list cast are left to cope with scant, corny dialogue and very little room to explore – or comprehend – any of their own actions, so it just ends up feeling like one crazy weightless exploding CGI canvas after another. Eccleston just about hits the right tone as a mad Scottish arms dealer in apt shades of Dr. Evil; but Tatum’s doe-eyed hero is left wanting, restricted to making smouldering looks at Sienna Miller, who deserves much better than this catsuit-wearing, young-male-fantasy character she is afforded here. Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Quade and Jonathan Pryce should also know better. In among the sci-fi nonsense is a diverting subplot involving arch ninja rivals Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes (a mute assassin and member of the Joes, played by British wushu ace, Ray Park), which is afforded its own flashback sequence and recurring sword-battles, continuing Hollywood’s post-Kill Bill tribute to the ninja film, with other examples being Ninja Assassin and Ninja (also both from 2009). This doesn’t hold a candle to either of those films, of course, although you would be wrong to expect much martial arts action from this movie. With a budget of $175 million, bigger does not always mean better.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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