G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra Review – Review and Trailer

G.I.-Joe-The-Rise-of-Cobra-movie-image-26one-star2With the March 2013 arrival of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a viewing of its predecessor, The Rise of Cobra, was in order. I initially steered clear at the time of its 2009 release, as it looked awful judging from what little I‘d seen of it. However, after becoming a born-again G.I. Joe fan of sorts last year after 25 years away from the game (1987, fifth grade!), I finally – albeit with much hesitation – took the plunge.

Folks, this is why you’re constantly told to listen to your gut instincts.

Long story short, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is the celluloid equivalent of drinking out of the toilet: it’s full of shit but audiences will lap it up anyway. And they did in droves, as the movie killed at the box office ($150 million domestically), though at the sacrifice of a few million brain cells.

There is not one redeeming quality here whatsoever. The casting is terrible. The acting is terrible. The script is terrible. The fan fiction-grade plot is nonexistent. And you needn‘t even be a G.I. Joe fan to share these sentiments. It’s a 120-minute Michael Bay wet dream loaded with explosions, gunfire, lousy special effects, babes in skintight outfits, and the goofy black sidekick’s pathetic attempt at comic relief. One can’t help but wonder if director Stephen Sommers lifted nary a finger and instead just let the inmates run the asylum.

Oh, there’s a speck of a story buried in here somewhere, about the Joes having to hunt down a cache of metal-eating warheads in the possession of crooked arms dealer McCullen (Christopher Eccleston, with cliché Bonnie Scotland accent) and disguise-artist comrade Zartan (Arnold Vosloo). The warheads contain something called nanomite technology that is capable of disintegrating entire cities. Unfortunately, the production location was spared.

This is a G.I. Joe movie in name only. The script – unsurprisingly credited to three writers – strips away everything that was the bread and butter of the franchise’s 1980s heyday in terms of storytelling and characterization. Sorry, but Breaker (Saïd Taghmaoui) is not Moroccan, and Heavy Duty is not British (though Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje is the only one who emerges from this mess unscathed). Meanwhile, Duke is not babyfaced Channing Tatum, and Ripcord sure as hell is not Marlon Wayans. Even way back in 2009, someone should have noticed that Tatum cannot deliver dialogue to save his life, while the less said about Wayans’ presence, the better. It’s also impossible to not be embarrassed for Dennis Quaid, who reduces the regularly no-guff character of General Hawk to a refugee from Stripes, barking cringeworthy lines such as “I am General Clayton Abernathy” with hands planted firmly on hips.

No one in Rise of Cobra has any identity whatsoever. The Joes all wear generic form-fitting black catsuits and the plot gives them nothing to do except engage in shootouts and chases in order to justify their presence. The inevitable Spy vs. Spy subplot with archrivals Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) is also a yawner, unless you like being subjected to constant flashbacks of them beating the crap out of each other in their stringy-haired childhood. The very first of these scenes, in which they brawl inside a kitchen, has as much dramatic impact as Kato ambushing Inspector Clouseau.

The baddies are as equally bland. Their own scrambled backstory has the soon-to-be Cobra Commander starting out as a wiry soldier-cum-science nerd laughably named Rex Lewis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Even better, the Baroness (Sienna Miller) is Rex’s sister Ana, a blonde socialite and former love interest of Duke, who later turns evil and dyes her hair black without any real motivation after Rex supposedly dies in action in East Africa under Duke’s command four years earlier. (A good portion of The Rise of Cobra seems to take place “four years earlier.”)

My sincerest apologies for this review being four years too late, but if it’s able to prevent just one person from wasting two hours of their life on this puerile dreck, then it’ll have been worth it. After all, knowing is half the battle.


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Categories: Reviews


  1. G.I. Joe: Retaliation – Review and Trailer | Filmbalaya.com - April 6, 2013

    […] say that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is better than its appalling predecessor, 2009’s The Rise of Cobra, is like saying that the AMC Gremlin is better than the Edsel. But there are some positives. First, […]

  2. G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987) Review and Trailer | Filmbalaya.com - May 9, 2013

    […] I reviewed both G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and the sequel Retaliation, Adam offhandedly suggested whipping up a retrospective about the 1987 […]

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