G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Starring Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans, Dennis Quaid, Ray Park, Rachel Nichols
Release date: August 7, 2009
Like many children of the ’80s, I did watch the G.I. Joe cartoon. Don’t ask me what I remember of it though. I watched so many cartoons back then that other than the Joe’s “knowing is half the battle” segments, there is not much of it that I retained over the years. What I do know is that the cartoon was very popular way back when and it was only a matter of time before it got its big screen live-action debut. I mean, if Transformers and even Alvin and the Chipmunks can get that kind treatment, why can’t G.I. Joe?
Based on the popular toy line and cartoon, G. I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra follows soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans). On a mission to transfer a deadly technological weapon, their convoy is ambushed by a terrorist group. Their collective behind is saved by an elite military led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), known as G.I. JOE. In memory of their fallen comrades, Duke and Ripcord team up with the JOEs to safely transport the weapons to their destination and in the process they come across the terrorist group COBRA.
While I did enjoy the cartoon as a child, I must admit, the movie did not give me the same feeling. Directed by Stephen Sommers (The Mummy), the action movie is just not as exciting as the other summer action movies I’ve seen so far this year. Now this is not to say that the movie does not deliver on all the ingredients needed for a summer blockbuster. The explosions are all there and so are the kick ass action sequences. Even the terrible dialogue and nonsense plot lines are present. So how could a movie that seems to have everything have nothing at all?
Well for one thing, the script is sub-par. Writers David Elliot and Stuart Beattie have crafted a decent G.I. Joe story, but I feel as if I know nothing about these people. Despite back stories for several JOE members, at no point in the film do I care about the well being of any of the characters on the screen. They feel about as real as action figures. Once you lose the audience’s interest in the characters, the movie has failed. Also, some of the scenarios in the script are just plain silly or so predictable, you can see it coming a mile away.
Perhaps not all the blame can be rested on the writers’ shoulders. On many occasions, a so-so script can be elevated by an actor’s performance. Sadly, there are too few great performances and too many sub-par performances. Tatum’s Duke is a prime example of terrible casting decisions. Tatum certainly could pull off the role of Duke from the physical aspect of the role, but everything else goes south. His acting is stiff and his delivery of lines is never on the mark. I was very surprised because Tatum showed he could act in Stop Loss, but I never bought the idea that he was Duke.
The same goes for Quaid, who practically phones in his role as Hawk, not that you can blame him. His role doesn’t require him to do much other than look tough and make speeches. Plus he looks a little too old for the role of Hawk. In his current shape, he doesn’t look like a guy that could take down anyone in a fight.
There is one performance that should be highlighted and that is Sienna Miller‘s take on the Baroness. Sexy, tough, and slightly campy, Miller practically steals every scene she is in, giving an enjoyable over the top performance that is highly entertaining to watch. She seems to enjoy playing the role of the bad girl and it shows in her performance. Snake Eyes (Ray Park) doesn’t say anything at all, but we all know action speaks louder than words. Park is the main reason any of the action sequences are entertaining to watch and even I felt goosebumps when Snake Eyes and StormShadow met face to face in combat.
Overall, G.I. Joe ranks low on the list of summer action movies that have come out (yes, even the Wolverine was more entertaining than this). I just didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would. Hopefully the eventual sequel will be more entertaining, seeing as this G.I. Joe has left a lot of interesting plotlines still unresolved by the film’s end.