I should have known better. As a kid I never played with G.I. Joe toys, and as a slightly older kid I knew how silly their cartoon was. And yet, the combination of a good sale and seeing Sienna Miller in tight leather led me to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. As I said, I should have known better.

The movie focuses on army buddies Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), who wind up recruited into the super-mysterious -- but quick to recruit -- international military unit G.I. Joe. The other members have skills instead of personalities: Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), a logical redhead with a laser-guided crossbow; Snake Eyes (Ray Park), a silent masked martial artist; Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), a loud man with some big guns; and General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), the tough-as-nails leader.

As for the baddies, they're as one-dimensional as the heroes. Ana, a.k.a. the Baroness (Sienna Miller), is the hot-and-deady femme fatale. Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) is a martial artist obsessed with Snake Eyes. James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston, so good on the new Doctor Who, so much less here) is the arms creator playing the government and terrorists against each other. And the Doctor (Joshua Gordon-Levitt, another great actor phoning it in here) likes to torture and alter people for science.

The plot, such as it is, involves a superweapon called nanomites that can be programmed to destroy anything from a tank to a city: The bad guys want it (even though McCullen's M.A.R.S. company built it, so why not just build more?) and the Joes want to protect it or get it back. There are other items tossed in -- the former romance between Duke and the Baroness, the shared past of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, Ripcord hitting on Scarlett -- but the closest this movie comes to being clever is working in lines from the cartoon series. As with the toys, this is all about the tech.

If G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is anything, it's a running ad for cool toys. There are lots of machine guns, laser weapons, and pulse-beam devices. The Delta-6 Accelerator let the good guys run over cars, through trains, and dodge missiles. There are tanks, submarines, tunnelling vehicles, and just about every sort of CGI thing to distract from the lack of any real plot or character.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is mindless fun -- minus the fun. This movie may hold some appeal to fans of the old toys and cartoons, provided those folks look back and never think about their flaws. For me, this movie was very stupid and fairly boring (except for Sienna Miller's outfit) and I'll gladly pass on the inevitable sequel.

Overall grade: D-
Reviewed by James Lynch


ricky99 said...

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is an action movie. I watch this movie and I think this movie may hold some appeal to fans of the old toys and cartoons. This is very interesting.

James Lynch said...

Yes, it's an action movie -- but a pretty bad one. There are plenty of intelligent action movies -- from the Bourne movies to RONIN -- and action alone does not a quality movie make.