G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

2013 #85
Stephen Sommers | 118 mins | Blu-ray | 2.35:1 | USA & Czech Republic / English | 12 / PG-13

America, fuck yeah!

If Team America: World Police had been made for children, it would be a lot like this.

If The Asylum made blockbusters instead of mockbusters, they would be a lot like this.

If Michael Bay were a less skilled director, his movies would be a lot like this.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of CobraIt’s tough to know where to begin slagging it off — there are too many options. How about the groundwork for any film: the screenplay. Never mind the storyline (a MacGuffin hunt designed to facilitate action sequences), but take a look at the dialogue — it’s all of the “oh hello, brother” / “you are finally home, my wife” / “I’ve not seen you for four years” level. After a while, you just have to accept it’s pushing so-bad-it’s-good; by the final act, I was laughing out loud at nearly every line.

The characters all have daft names/codenames that people insist on using to make sure we know which toy they’re based on. Indeed, the actors sometimes stand as if they’re action figures — a callback to their roots, an attempt at subconscious manipulation to buy toys, or just a plastic cast? And the accents… Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is a Londoner born and raised, so why does he sound like Don Cheadle in Ocean’s Eleven?! Who had the bright idea of forcing Christopher Eccleston to do a Scottish accent?! Why is Joseph Gordon-Levitt overacting so ferociously?!

There’s needless, distracting, awkwardly-inserted flashback sequences designed to illuminate and explore the backstory of these characters — who are in an action movie and are based on toys. If ever we don’t need to know (or care) about a character’s history, it’s here. And talking of flashbacks, the CGI looks more like it’s from 1999 than 2009.

Action figuresAlmost as unintentionally hilarious is the Radio Times review. It praises all sorts of things that are actually awful — several of the things I’ve covered so far, in fact: “the dialogue is hilariously self-aware” (it’s hilariously unaware), “smart flashbacks” (pointless flashbacks), “high-quality visuals” (cheap visuals), etc.

Everything is so ludicrously overblown, from the predictable plot to the dodgy dialogue to the action sequences that aren’t just OTT, they’re over OTT. It’s another example of a kids’ Saturday morning TV show concept writ large into a movie that takes itself too seriously and, with a PG-13 certificate, aims at teenagers and underdeveloped adults. I’m not the strongest advocate of growing out of childish things (superheroes, Doctor Who, yay!), but some stuff remains at “for the young only”. This is one of them.

2 out of 5

This review is part of the 100 Films Advent Calendar 2013. Read more here.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra featured on my list of The Five Worst Films I Saw in 2013, which can be read in full here.

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