A nameless warrior joins a clan of ninjas and ends up leading a
battle against a powerful Yakuza crime boss aligned with Cobra.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021)
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
Starring Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Samara Weaving, Iko Uwais, Peter Mensah, Úrsula Corberó
Reboot of 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Based on characters from Hasbro
What is it about this brand that can’t seem to translate to the big screen? Seriously, it’s a huge, successful property. One which has had a healthy run of toys, cartoons, and comics. Yet, somehow, they can’t get it right when they decide to attempt a big blockbuster movie. After two unsuccessful attempts, it was apparently decided to try a third time. The difference being an origin story of one of the most beloved characters. This should have worked. This should have been the one to finally kickstart a franchise. Instead, we are treated to a film with a committed cast and that’s about it. A film which can’t seem to decide if it wants to be an all-out origin story for the title character or a full-on G.I. Joe film. Ladies and gentlemen, here is the third attempt, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins.
A pet peeve of my when it comes to a movie is when the film wastes a perfectly good cast. Like they do here. Everyone involved actually seems like they want to help make a good movie. Henry Golding, constantly slipping accent aside, does give it his all in the title role. Samara Weaving, wasted screen time aside, also excels in the little bit she is given as Scarlett. Honestly, the standout in this film is Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow. He’s the only one who seems to benefit from a stellar performance and good writing. Unfortunately, the faults don’t stop here. For a martial arts film, this is some of the worst action scenes I’ve witnessed in the genre. From the lackluster choreography to the overly edited scenes themselves, not a single one elicited even a moment of excitement for me. Finally, this is easily one of the more confused films I’ve seen. It tries to be both a character origin story and laying the groundwork for a G.I. Joe franchise, but abysmally fails at both. Mainly due to the lack of commitment on both fronts.
This is by far the worst attempt yet at bringing the franchise to the big screen. Aside from the title character famously being known to not talk, it fails a very game cast. It can’t decide what type of film it wants to be and features some of the most awful fight scenes I’ve sat through. Stop attempting to make this into a film franchise. Just leave it in the realm of comics and cartoons.
I don't think anyone really expected anything from this reboot/spin-off/prequel that was severely undermarketed and didn't seem to have a target audience. The G.I. Joe fans were gonna be pissed that Snake Eyes was maskless and talking, and regular movie fans don't give a damn about G.I. Joe in the first place. To be expected, the movie is a complete mess from top to bottom in regards to plot and character. It rips off every decent ninja movie from Batman Begins to Kung Fu Panda to deliver a bland origin story for a character whose entire personality is "swords" and "doesn't talk." All the G.I. Joe shit feels forced in, and we ultimately only get to see Snake Eyes in his iconic get-up for about 12 seconds at the end of the movie.
Henry Golding, whose dreadful American accent slips up constantly, plays Snake Eyes, a Yakuza soldier who named himself after the dice roll that got his father killed. Seriously. When he irrationally saves the life of a condemned Yakuza (who turns out to be Storm Shadow, which they treat as a twist, but if you're even half paying attention, you'll figure it out immediately), Snake Eyes is invited to join the guy's clan of ninjas. But actually, he's a double agent working for the evil Yakuza boss Kenta (Hira), who is working for Cobra, who wants Snake Eyes to steal some sort of magic fire gem from the ninjas. I know it doesn't make sense. Just don't think about it. Somehow, after stealing the gem and betraying everyone's trust, Snake Eyes is still considered an ally of the ninjas at the end of it, but Storm Shadow uses the gem one time, he is immediately banished from the only family he's ever known. None of the character decisions make sense here.
Even the fight scenes are loaded with shaky cam and frequent cuts. The whole film feels lazy, like it was crapped out by an A.I. who had to watch every episode of the G.I. Joe cartoon and as many ninja movies as it could find. I'm sure this'll bomb, and the G.I. Joe film franchise that Paramount keeps trying to sell to people will hit yet another roadblock until it's rebooted in five years with Destro's origin story.