‘G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes’ is a fun Saturday matinee that’s worth the price of admission, but you might want to wait for the DVD release before shelling out for a theater ticket.
The g.i. joe snake eyes rotten tomatoes is a movie that was released in August of 2009. It has an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and received mixed reviews from critics.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins, a film from Paramount, is so well-made in terms of visual refinement, character individuality, and developing a narrative that isn’t a typical “Save the Cat” origin story that it’s almost sad to see it fail as an action picture. There are lots of genuine fisticuffs and classic action postures, as well as plenty of big-budget ninja extravaganza, including at least one neon-colored sword battle on a rooftop. Despite very excellent staging (courtesy of Kenji Tanigaki) and unimpeachable stunt work, the many fights and occasional chases are filmed through apparently random “shaky cam” and edited with a Liam Neeson takes 20 cuts method. Since Quantum of Solace, there hasn’t been a bigger disparity between the artistry on display and how that spectacle plays out onscreen.
Despite the film’s terrible action cutting, it does not immediately fall below recommendation standards, which is a testament to how good the rest of it is. Pour one for Stephen Sommers’ The Rise of Cobra (which almost mastered the Marvel Cinematic Universe concept two years before Thor and Captain America) and Jon M. Chu’s strangely prophetic Retaliation (which became the most politically correct movie of the post-9/11 period). This Henry Golding-starring “origin story” is a reworking of the G.I. Joe mythology, even if it mostly ignores the G.I. Joe “things.” The riveting ninja drama takes up the bulk of the 121-minute action. The “cinematic world” bullshit rears its ugly head in the closing reels, but Rise of Cobra came dangerously near to crumbling in its final 20 minutes as well.
Despite the fact that the Skydance/Hasbro/MGM picture cost $88 million vs $135-$175 million for its predecessors, it looks beautiful and dramatic in ways we didn’t anticipate before Netflix Originals. This mostly Japanese film gets off to a rough start with our young hero witnessing his father’s death, which offers a ludicrous explanation for his name. When he gets recruited for weapons smuggling and meets paths with Thomas “Tommy” Arashikage (Andrew Koji), whom he rescues at the risk of his own life, things start to look brighter. The new friend is not a Yakuza gangster, but a high-ranking member of an old Japanese clan. Thomas offers “Snake” the chance to earn his way into the cult and find purpose in an otherwise pointless existence out of gratitude and compassion.
The script, which was mostly written by Evan Spiliotopoulos (whose The Unholy is one of the year’s best horror pictures), smartly concentrates on Snake and Tommy’s bromance as well as the process by which the future Joe could become a family member. In this picture, Koji is outstanding, almost stealing the show and establishing himself as a fascinating action character alongside the more well-known starring guy.
It was an issue when Thomas took a back seat to a not-so-quiet romance between Snake and Akiko (Haruka Abe). Even though neither of Snake’s main encounters is amorous, Abe’s persona and increasing focus seem like a mid-course “no homo” “course correction.” Iko Uwais and Peter Mensah both provide a feeling of urgency to the proceedings.
There are a few genuine twists in the picture, or at the very least narrative beats and character discoveries that are uncommon for IP exploitation flicks. Without undercutting the preceding 40 minutes, at least one early second-act revelation recasts all that has gone before and will come after. I’m not sure how accurate this is to the Larry Hama comics, but it works in the context of the movie. Snake Eyes is an intriguing solo ninja action movie, but it suffers from the inevitable G.I. Joe infiltration. Ursula Corberó is excellent as Baroness, while Samara Weaving, like Scarlett, is a solid action figure. Unfortunately, neither the hero nor the villain seem to be very helpful to the pro. Like Cruella, you’ll ponder how much better Snake Eyes might have been if it hadn’t relied on well-known IP.
To be honest, Ninja Assassin, The Hunted, and any of the American Ninja sequels weren’t exactly box office hits when they first came out. Whether it’s James Bond (You Only Live Twice and The Man With the Golden Gun), the X-Men (The Wolverine), The Dark Knight (Batman Begins), or Tom Cruise in his peak, ninja/samurai films nearly always need some IP (The Last Samurai). Beyond the Mad Libs planning and G.I. Joe references, Golding and Koji’s relationship makes the conventional story beats work. While Golding is great, it’s another another example of a charismatic leading man/romantic lead’s onscreen charm and star wattage being toned down in the sake of a generic franchise action-hero starring role. Is this considered progress in terms of inclusivity?
It’s a pity that director Robert Schwentke and editor Stuart Levy filmed them like a shoddy knock-off and then cut them to shreds in the editing room for a picture with so much action and so many distinct fight scene elements. I’m not going to pretend to know why this occurred. Still, the onscreen spectacle leaves a lot to be desired in terms of comprehensibility for a picture that wants to be as badass as The Raid and John Wick (without the R-rated graphic violence, of course). Viewers will wonder, “What happened?” and wish that some crowd-pleasing set-ups didn’t pay off completely offscreen. Ninja Assassin, on the other hand, had no narrative and depended only on jaw-dropping (and gore-soaked) action scenes.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is a better “feature film” than I expected, with more character development and deeper connections than most unrequested IP reboots, but it falls flat as an action picture. It’s up to you whether or not that’s a dealbreaker for you, since I (for one) still like Quantum of Solace despite the Bourne Ultimatum’s editing decisions. The G.I. Joe material seems jammed in, but the stuff that shocks (like the really terrifying “third trial”) makes it worthwhile to watch. Snake Eyes is a great Saturday matinée, even if I still think The Rise of Cobra is the finest G.I. Joe picture.
G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes is a movie that was released on March 27, 2023 and it follows the story of G.I. Joe as they fight Cobra in an alternate reality where the organization has taken over the United States and turned it into a militarized police state. Reference: snake eyes 2023.