After 100 rewrites and multiple directors, it was impossible to not think the absolute worst of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Not screening for critics didn’t help the cause either. The reason for our occlusion became abundantly clear after viewing — those rewrites and reshoots added up to nothing more than expensive mediocrity; high octane, explosive mediocrity.
But what should one come to expect from Hasbro, the same toy manufacturing company with creative filmmaking control that was responsible for the bombastic Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen? Exactly — a storyline that was not weak on substance or covered up with more CGI and rigged explosions to offset that fact would have been the surprise (I think that made sense).
Anyways, back to the film itself. For those who aren’t aware, the G.I. Joe team is the elite of the armed forces, trained to excel in the worst conditions and overcome any and all adversaries. They — Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Breaker (Said Taghmaoui) and Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) — find themselves called to action when four nanotech warheads capable of razing a city to nothingness in seconds are nearly stolen. Tagging along, since it was their patrol that was decimated by a leather clad woman known as the Baroness (Sienna Miller), is Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans).
For whatever reason, perhaps because that Transformer flick took place there, a third of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra takes place underground in Egypt. It is here, under the watchful eyes of the entire Joe team and their awe-inspiring weaponry, that the forces of Cobra — Stormshadow (Byung-hun Lee), Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) and once again Baroness — take control of the prized weapons. Yeah, three people waltz into the headquarters of the most advanced fighting unit and walk out unscathed . . .
Director, Stephen Sommers, then transports us to location two: Paris. Our heroes now comically chase the bad guys in exoskeleton suits up and down the famed Avenue des Champs-à‰lysées laying waste to everything in their wake. Sadly, the CGI is so poorly conceived and rendered that I found it quite distracting. The banter headed up by Ripcord was equally, if not more, annoying.
Not to be outdone on shoddiness, the final act of the film takes place in the Arctic, under the polar ice caps in the headquarters of Cobra Command. It’s equally outrageous in the action with the personalized submarine warfare but the real slap in the face is the contrived story arc put forth. I’m not going to give it away, but it is just so damn obvious so little attention went into actually writing this. I’m stunned some of the folks who signed on for this decided to stay on-board.
In the end, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra needed at least one more rewrite — one with something more to offer than the point and click nature offered up here. And someone please explain to Hollywood that exploding and flipping cars, exploding and crashing aircraft, and exploding and sinking watercraft can’t make up for a good story. The only reason I’m not giving this film a worse rating is because Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols look great in their tight, form fitting outfits. Okay, that is two reasons . . .