G.I. JOE: RISE OF COBRA - Thrills From Start To End
G.I. JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA (fantasy action thriller)
Cast: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Christopher Eccleston, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Byung Hun Lee, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid and Rachel Nichols
Director: Stephen Sommers
Time: 118 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
PREAMBLE: After the Transformers, it's G.I. Joe for more crazy summer action. Like the Transformers, G.I. Joe (or Action Force) was also a brand of Hasbro toys featuring all kinds of combat figures and high-tech vehicles that fire a young boy's imagination. At the height of its popularity in the 1980s, the Action Force brand spawned a cartoon series, a Marvel comic and even an animated movie before fading away in the early 1990s.
Now it is set to rival Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen at the box-office. I am not well acquainted with Action Force toys but I was totally immersed in the action right after the opening flashback. For those who have played with G.I. Joe toys as kids, this is definitely the chance to relive their wildest action fantasies...
THE SKINNY: MARS Corporation, led by the dastardly James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston), has developed a 'nanomite' bomb that contains greenish 'bionic mites' capable of 'eating' metal and demolishing structures and vehicles in seconds. You can imagine that anyone who has the nanomite bomb will be able to control the world - which is what McCullen is trying to do with a secret organisation known as Cobra.
Sent out to get the bomb are the Baroness (Sienna Miller) and Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun, picture) and trying to stop them are the elite G.I. Joe team led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). Leading members of the Joes team are Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Breaker (Saïd Taghmaoui). They are later joined by US Special Forces members, Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) who provide the movie with its love story, romantic interests and comic relief, not to mention fast-paced action and thrills.
HITS & MISSES: Indeed, director Stephen Sommers and his scripters (Stuart Beattie, David Elliot and Paul Lovett) seem obsessed with wanting to throw in everything from James Bond-type action, villains, underwater sets and romance to Star Wars battles, weapons and awe-inspiring gadgets. Sommers spares no expense in getting the stunts and scenes he wants and most of them are 'real cool'. Still, he takes time to provide the 'backgrounds' of the major characters, albeit in flashbacks so that they do not 'clash' with the main action and storyflow.
In the Transformers movies, the battle sequences are often blurred and confusing when we have trouble differentiating the good and bad robots. There is no such problem here. The chases and fight/stunt sequences are so spectacular and breath-taking - one of the most mind-boggling action pieces I have seen this summer. This especially applies to the Paris street chase sequence which has the Joes in accelerator suits hot on the heels of the Baroness in a reinforced Hummer.
Usually in action movies like this, the performances take a backseat. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the chemistry between Tatum and Miller, and between Wayans and Nichols. Yeah, in the midst of all that zapping, clashing and crashing, Sommers wants us to know that 'the heart still goes on'. And of course, he ends with an intriguing narrative hook - provided by a subplot involving Zartan (played by Arnold Vosloo).
THE LOWDOWN: It has its flaws but this is an adrenaline-spiked 'Government-Issue' thrill ride from start to end.