Monday, August 10, 2009

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra ** ½
Directed By:
Stephen Sommers.
Written By: Stuart Beattie and David Elliot & Paul Lovett and Michael Gordon & Stephen Sommers.
Starring: Channing Tatum (Duke), Sienna Miller (Ana/Baroness), Marlon Wayans (Ripcord), Dennis Quaid (General Hawk), Christopher Eccleston (McCullen/Destro), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (The Doctor/Rex), Byung-hun Lee (Storm Shadow), Rachel Nichols (Shana 'Scarlett' O'Hara), Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Heavy Duty), Saïd Taghmaoui (Breaker), Ray Park (Snake Eyes), Jonathan Pryce (U.S. President), Arnold Vosloo (Zartan).

No one is going to accuse GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra of being an intelligent movie. It is in effect one of the stupidest movies of the year. It is a film that really does not have a brain in its head, with its strange pseudo science, ridiculous plot and characters that are all one dimensional at best. And yet, I have to admit that I certainly did not dislike the movie as much as say the most recent Transformers movie. Yes, the movie is silly. But it is also fun to a certain extent. So while I cannot actually recommend the movie, I cannot say that it’s bad either.

The plot revolves around a new warhead developed by MARS, the world’s leading Weapons Company. The warhead utilizes nano-technology, essentially sending millions of small, robot bugs that eat can eat through anything. Once the bugs are unleashed, they cannot be stopped for any reason without hitting the “kill switch”. Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are assigned to head up the team to deliver the warheads to NATO. They are attacked by a highly organized, villainous group, headed up by Ana (Sienna Miller), Duke’s old fiancée. The only thing that stops Ana and her team from getting the warhead is that an elite task force known as G.I. Joe shows up and stops them. But Ana is not easily deterred. It turns out that McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), the head of MARS wants to steal his warheads back. It is part of his plan for; you guessed it, world domination. His team includes the brilliant Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), whose evil inventions have helped MARS become the dominant player in the arms race that they are.

Duke and Ripcord end up part of the GI Joe team, headed up by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid), which is a multi-national effort made up of the best of the best. Also on the team is Shana “Scarlett” O’Hara (Rachel Nichols), a brilliant, but overly analytical woman, Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), whose specializes in what appears to be brute force, Breaker (Said Taghmaoui)), a computer genius and Snake Eyes (Ray Park), a kung fu expert, whose dark past includes a rivalry with Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee), the kung fu expert who works for MARS.

The film is essentially made up of scenes of where the Joes have the fight to people from MARS using such advanced technology as Accelerator suits, which essentially make the wearer invincible, underwater submarines that handle like the space ships from Star Wars and planes that can fly from Moscow to Washington in approximately 15 minutes. So yes, the action sequences are utterly ridiculous, and the already perfunctory dialogue becomes downright ridiculous in these scenes, but director Stephen Sommers (the first two Mummy films and Van Helsing) really does know how to stage these action sequences in a fun way.

The actors in the movie do what they can in their roles, but they are expected to deliver some inane dialogue, and hold back secrets from their past for now reason other than that the movies plot would fall apart if they reveal anything too soon. Yet, for the most part, I did enjoy the actors. Dennis Quaid seems bored in the film, but he does project the necessary authority to play a General. Channing Tatum really only has one expression as an actor, but it serves him well in this movie. Marlon Wayans has way too much fun playing Ripcord, the overly cocky guy, who falls for Nichols’ Scarlett, who is essentially playing a poor man’s Bones (the wonderful Emily Deschanel from the TV show of the same name for those who didn’t get the reference). Eccelson’s Scottish accent is a little distracting at times, but he does spit out his venomous dialogue with delight. But the two best performances belong to Sienna Miller and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Miller does a wonderful job playing the femme fatale Ana. She is smart and sexy, even without taking her clothes off (this may be the first film I have seen her in where she does not disrobe at some point). Gordon-Levitt is even better as the demented doctor, who has the marked disadvantage of having his voice changed, and most of his face covered, but his mad eyes are fascinating. He is always great, and even when given a seemingly nothing role like this, he is wonderful.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is not really a good movie. It is a movie that certainly not intelligent in any sense of the word. It is an incredibly stupid, silly movie. But I think that perhaps the film makers knew just how dumb this movie was, and decided to embrace that stupidity for all it was worth. They never take the film too seriously. It is certainly not a good movie. But damned if it is not entertaining in fits and starts. G.I. Joe is a guilty pleasure, in the best sense of the word.

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