Saturday, 20 November 2010

Film Review: G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (2009)

Director: Stephen Sommers
Running time: 118 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 12A

UK release date: 7th August 2009

Watched on DVD Saturday 20th November 2010.


I believe that G.I. Joe was originally a toy, an all American hero meant to inspire young boys to join the American armed forces. We have a similar thing over here in the U.K. call ‘Action Man’. In the film G.I. Joe is no longer an individual, but a special top secret unit, and the unit is no longer American, but made up from the best of the best from all over the world. I guess Hollywood is learning that there is a bit chunk of the planet that isn’t the USA. But more of this later, here’s a short summary before I tell you what I really think (summary haters please inject yourselves with nanobots and omit the next paragraph… thank you).

Captain Duke Hauser and his team are tasked with delivering new weapons, special nanobot warheads, to NATO. They are ambushed but the mission is saved by the intervention of the top secret unit known as G.I. Joe. Having been taken to their HQ in Egypt, Hauser and his sidekick, Ripcord ask to join the Unit, lead by General Abernathy. They go through training under the watchful eye of Heavy Duty and Snake Eyes. Both qualify to join the team. Before they can set off after their ambushers the base is attacked and the bad guys, including Anastasia ‘Ana’ DeCobray, who has a history with Hauser and Storm Shadow, who is the sworn enemy of Snake Eyes. They get away with the warheads and head for Paris. The bad guys are led by megalomaniac James McCullen, also known as Destro who is assisted by the evil genius the Cobra Commander. The G.I. Joe unit follows the bad guys to Paris where they fight a pitched battle. They escape but ‘The Joes’ are on the trail and a big showdown is imminent.

This film relies very heavily on CGI, which is very well done. There are also some nice fight sequences and the stunt work is all of high quality. The sets are of James Bond scale, giant complexes hewn into the ground or vast undersea cities, all very impressive to look at. It’s a shame the same effort wasn’t put into the plot. There were too many flashbacks that broke up the narrative and proved more of a distraction than, I’m sure, was intended.

I have to say that Christopher Eccleston‘s Scottish accent as James McCullen is one of the worst I’ve ever heard, I expect much better from an actor of his standing. Nobody really stood out, performance wise, but I guess I’ll give honourable mentions to Channing Tatum as Captain Duke Hauser, Dennis Quaid as General Abernathy / Hawk, Sienna Miller as Anastasia ‘Ana’ DeCobray / Baroness, Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Rex Lewis / Cobra Commander and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Heavy Duty.

At the end of the day the great special effects could not make up for an over-complicated plot. It’s left wide open for a sequel and I hope the producers take a long hard look at this one before giving any sequel a green light. I can see what they were trying to achieve but I feel they tried to squeeze too much into this film. Over all, for me, although it’s visually quite spectacular, it just doesn’t work, and so, not recommended.

My score: 5.3/10

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