Monday 25 March 2013

From the archive: "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra"

Over in Hollywoodland, meanwhile, the death knell for an excessively dismal - and alarmingly militaristic - blockbuster season is sounded by The Mummy director Stephen Sommers' G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, a stupefying live-action take on the "much-loved" (it says here) range of Hasbro action figures. What we learn here is that G.I. Joe isn't a single individual, but the codename for an entire organisation taking on an evil weapons manufacturer by wheeling out some pretty big guns of their own; you might consider it Starship Troopers played dismayingly straight.

As head marine Duke, Channing Tatum (buffed upper torso, dialogue pulled from him by drawstring, no obvious genitalia) leads the ill-drilled platoon of thesps making a frontal assault on any Worst Ensemble Acting awards being handed out this year. Across a battlefield strewn with bad accents English (the London-born Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) and Scottish (Christopher Eccleston), high-level embarrassment (general Dennis Quaid, President Jonathan Pryce), outright incompetence (the statuesque Slovak blonde Quaid is required to address as Colonel) and Marlon Wayans, the surprise is that Sienna Miller should have found her natural level, giving acceptable slapdash pantomime as the villainous, lycra-clad Baroness.

The remainder is the usual exercise in evaluating marketing elements and business decisions. The rise of the Asian market had led to the now industry-standard concessions towards wire-fighting and kung fu, although Paramount seem less concerned about Arabs, depicted as nefarious camel-tuggers to be overpowered by all-American might, or Parisians, whose city - as in the Transformers sequel - gets shot to shit for the sake of a few quick (and flimsily digitised) thrills. (Handing French-born Moroccan Said Taghmaoui a paycheque to play a subordinate computer nerd doesn't cover your back.) As crass, jingoistic propaganda, Joe has an almost endearingly hamfisted way of hitting all its targets; as a movie, it barely gets out of the packaging.

(August 2009)

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is available on DVD through Paramount. A sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, opens in cinemas nationwide on Wednesday.

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