Complicated G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra shows signs of brilliance
Starring Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller, and Channing Tatum. Rated 14A. Now playing.
An almost wholly successful riposte to killjoy movies like Stop-Loss and In the Valley of Elah that have made modern warfare seem stressful and evil, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is two straight hours of undiluted mayhemy goodness.
As he showed with The Mummy and Van Helsing, director Stephen Sommers knows how to craft silly action movies that are actually fun to watch. After gleefully deconstructing the various creatures of the Universal horror catalog, Sommers is now playing with G.I. Joe, specifically the comics and TV shows of the early ’80s.
Set in the near future, the movie is basically all about weapons. The bad guys, called Destro (Christopher Eccleston), the Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), and the Baroness (Sienna Miller), aided by countless disposable flunkies, have been commissioned by NATO to develop horrific new weapons technology, which they steal from the good guys using awesome weapons, who then retaliate by using their own awesome weapons to retrieve the new weapons. The good guys are led by Gen. Hawk (Dennis Quaid) and Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), and include Joe recruits Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans). Because the latter two are fresh Joes, we get to see them in groovy training montages that show off the vast resources and capabilities of the Joe force, which is apparently a multinational black-ops assault force with an unlimited gadget budget. We also see a lot of abs and smouldering glowers.
Watch the trailer for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
The weird thing about this movie is that it is actually insanely complicated, with almost every character possessing detailed intertwining back stories that explain their various proclivities in bursts of flashback. It’s nothing you need to know, and the revelations tend to crop up at strange times (for example, while falling out of exploding airplanes or while dodging ninja stars), but the personal histories and rather competent acting make the movie less of a stupid cartoon. At times, it is a brilliant one.