Film critics and web sites can sometimes get caught up in hyperbole over certain films. “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” seems to be the victim of that exaggeration. MSNBC, for example, ran a headline declaring “G.I. Joe” as “the worst movie.” I have seen a lot of bad movies that are far worse than “G.I. Joe.”
The movie begins with the story of a 17th century arms dealer named McCullen. He was caught selling arms to both sides in a war and is about to have an iron mask imposed to his face as punishment for his crimes. The mask, still hot from the fires, scars him.
We move forward to this man’s great-great-great-grandson, who is introducing a new weapon to NATO. Based on nanomite technology, the weapon delivers small robotic organisms that attack and consume an object. He promises delivery of the weapon to NATO.
Enter Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans), two soldiers given the task of getting the weapon from the plant to NATO. Their convoy is attacked by a group led by the Baroness (Sienna Miller), who was once engaged to Duke.
The convoy is saved by an elite and international group of soldiers called G.I. Joe, led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid). Based in Egypt, they are tasked to do the hard jobs that NATO needs done and are equipped with the latest weapons systems and technology. Of course, Duke and Ripcord join the Joes.
We discover that the person trying to steal the weapons is McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) and he is backed by a man known as the Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). The Doctor is the creator of the nanomites and has also placed these robotic organisms into humans, making them unafraid and unaffected by pain. The movie spends the rest of its time racing around the globe in pursuit of the weapons.
This movie is not bad. It just does not have much going for it except the effects and the explosions. The pacing does not make you look at your watch and wonder how much longer it will be. It moves along. So why so much talk about how bad it is?
The movie was not screened for critics, and that likely hurt it. Paramount and Hasbro made this movie as well as the truly horrible Transformers sequel, which came out earlier this summer. The studio may have felt that any advance negative reviews from critics would hurt their first weekend box office, which is crucial to a big-budget action movie’s success. Some critics may have bashed the movie because they felt slighted by the studio’s tactic.
Is the movie a bit silly? Yes. The ending is telegraphed halfway through the movie, but the hyperbole of it being the worst movie is not necessary.
What I found amazing is how much family plays a role in the story and its background. McCullen is trying to live up to his ancestor’s legacy. His family of origin drives his actions. There are other family ties that are revealed as key to the story’s development. One of the themes the movie tells us is that family has power over us in ways we easily dismiss.
It also does another thing I found interesting. It makes a Scotsman the villain and gives us a Muslim character as a hero. In these years where we have been fighting the war on terror and there is so much negativity focused on Islam, it is nice to see a Muslim character as a hero.
However, this movie is violent and not for younger children. The movie does not show cause and effect in the violence. It is “bloodless” cartoon violence, which I think is more hurtful for younger children because they do not have a point of reference to understand what violence is. If they’re younger than 10, do not take your children to see this movie.
Mike Parnell is pastor of Beth Car Baptist Church in Halifax, Va.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, warlike battle scenes and adult situations.
Director: Stephen Sommers
Writers: Stuart Beattie, David Elliot and Paul Lovett
Cast: Channing Tatum: Duke; Marlon Wayans: Ripcord; Dennis Quaid: General Hawk; Christopher Eccleston: McCullen; Joseph Gordon-Levitt: The Doctor; Siena Miller: Baroness; Byung-hun Lee: Storm Shadow; Ray Park: Snake Eyes; Rachel Nicols: Scarlett; Said Taghmaoui: Breaker.
The movie’s official web site is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.