Sunday, October 4, 2009

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


After four high technology weapons are stolen under his watch, Duke (Channing Tatum) and his best friend, Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), team up with an elite squad known as the G.I. Joes (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Rachel Nichols, Said Taghmaoui, Ray Park), and their tough leader, General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) to retrieve them.

I knew going in that this movie would be high action/budget, low writing/characters, and well I'd say that's about right. As a pure action movie G.I. Joe could do far worse. The fight scenes are constant, over the top, and at times entertaining... but my god this movie suffers from action Turrets. After every big budget over the top, laughable over use of CGI, action scene the movie can't stand to hang for 15minutes to build characters. As such, every character's story, the ones they bother to tell that is, is told through a series of flashbacks which involved more action (I think they even managed the double flashback in a flashback).

The sad thing is, this is exactly the kind of movie I would have supported if it even tried on any level to have some character development and subtext. Once again we have the evil guns dealer, his crazy scientist, and characters as deep as the cardboard that contains their dolls counterparts. The very smart techy foreign guy, the big muscular angry guy with big guns, who is british; the hot, but of course a genius in disguise, redhead who believes in logic over emotion (Emily Deschanel just spit out her morning coffee), and of course the goofy black sidekick, oh and the tough gritty main star who will do whatever it takes (though of course not without his romantic sappy backstory).

Though even then I'd like to say I'd still be willing to forgive this movie, but then they hired the cast... Joseph Gordon Levitt is horribly miscast, Dennis Quaid is inexplicably there for a paycheck, and Jonathan Pryce has about 3 scenes of being the president saying "Good" or "I hope the Joes come threw..." Wayans plays his usual role, just not as funny, Snake Eyes is, well, the same you'd imagine him being, Rachel Nichols suffers apparently from jungle fever, Agbaje is fine, but never used beyond testosterone. Then you have Channing Tatum... the star... the central feature of the entire film.... every great co-star actor who never got a leading role just rolled over in their grave.

I'll openly admit I don't think Tatum could act his way out of the cardboard box his counter-part comes in. Even in his better films he has one facial expression for every emotion, looking more like a model posing sad/angry/happy than someone actually feeling it. As such Sommers, who has a talent for big action sequences, gets the usual lack of emotion out of his cast he's accustomed too. Only this time he doesn't have Rachel Weisz to pick up his slack. Now, if you're an action junky you're probably going to read this and say I don't get it, I'm too critical, and all that sort of stuff. My counter-question would be: If the film gives us no reason to care about the characters, other than that they're the central characters, why should we? By the same token when you watch Downfall you should be cheering Hitler.... but you don't do you? Well I hope not anyways...

The point is, for a film like G.I. Joe to escape its obvious struggles to not become a clone of films like X-Men and Star Wars it needs to do what those films did, gave us reasons to care about the characters (no matter how bad). Bland, undeveloped, backstories give us no reason to cheer when they provide us no contextual love for the core actors. Duke and Snake Eyes' backstories are sad, overly forced, tidbits trying to persuade you that they contain something deeper. They just don't, and in the hands of Stephen Sommers they develop into nothing but mediocrity.

Though for just achieving mediocrity I can't call it an awful film, just not one I would openly recommend. As such it gets the mid range score.

G.I. Joe is not a film that's all bad, just depressing in that if they had honestly tried in one of the key departments (casting, writing, directing, character development) it could have been an alright film.

1 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

ah, Ryan, you're trashing Channing Tatum, and you forget that Jenna Dewan is hanging around my blog, and could spot you and make you her G.I.Joe's next target :P

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