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G.I. Joe Is Perfect Anti-Critical Fare

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Directed by Stephen Sommers
Written by Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, and Paul Lovett from a story by Sommers, Beattie, and Michael B. Gordon
Paramount, 2009

I’m beginning to believe we’re in a real-life version of Mel Brooks’ The Producers.  After we the people of the United States made Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen 9th all-time in domestic grosses as of this writing (it will likely end up 8th with an outside shot at 7th), I recall a famous line from that story: we got the worst actors, the worst writer, the worst director…where did we go right?  While I wouldn’t go as far to say the actors of movies like Transformers and this week’s G.I. Joe are the worst, I could make an argument about the writers and directors.  Stephen Sommers, who brought us all-time classics Van Helsing and the first two Mummy movies, not to mention Deep Rising, returns to entertain us more with a script from Pirates of the Caribbean, 30 Days of Night, and Derailed scribe Stuart Beattie (along with two other writers with negligible credits).

But what does it matter what a critic thinks?  Apparently, it only matters when a person hasn’t made up their mind about a movie quite yet from the trailers.  With that, people seem to trust a good or bad review.  But everybody signed up for Transformers before the reviews came out.  It didn’t matter what was said.  I’d say everybody has made up their mind about G.I. Joe as well.  This isn’t as huge or loud an entertainment as Transformers, though, so it will likely have a big opening weekend followed by a precipitous drop and enough money to greenlight two sequels.

To its credit, G.I. Joe is way more coherent than the current 9th highest grossing movie of all-time.  Soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are delivering a case of advanced weaponry when their company is attacked by a group of bad guys led in the field by The Baroness (Sienna Miller) and funded by arms dealer McCullen (Christopher Eccleston).  After a big skirmish and perhaps the best action scene in the whole movie, Duke and Ripcord are saved by a special force led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) known as the Joes.  The case is transported to their secret facility, where Duke and Ripcord decide, hey…we want in.  Joining them is red-haired hottie Shana (Rachel Nichols), the vow-of-silence Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Breaker (Said Taghmaoui).

The weapon is question contains these little virus-like machines that work together to tear apart whatever in which they come in contact.  Meanwhile, a mysterious figure, with McCullen’s money, is creating an army of soldiers who feel no pain or fear, the future Cobra hinted at in the title.  This McCullen sure is one bad guy.  Of course his minions infiltrate Joe headquarters and steal back the weapon, leading the Joes to go after them once again.  Complicating matters: McCullen loves The Baroness, who is married to a scientist, but was once engaged to Duke.  Whatever happened there?  More love interests: Rachel Nichols and Marlon Wayans.  Yeah, they force that on us.  And minion Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) has a long history with Snake Eyes back to childhood, where jealousy led to a heinous crime.  Flashbacks!

One of the hilarious things this movie, in un-ironic fashion, is how it echoes the Trey Parker/Matt Stone flick Team America, especially in a huge disaster-filled Paris action scene, where the Eiffel Tower plays a prominent role.  The Joes basically cause more damage than the bad guys for a good long while.  I watch a movie like this and I feel like Kim Basinger does in Robert Altman’s Pret-A-Porter at the end of the film when all the models come out on the catwalk wearing nothing.  She just gives up.  She’s had enough trying to figure it all out and quits on the spot.  There is no reason to it, it just is.

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