I love crazy action movies. Strangely, however, that does not extend to James Bond movies, in which I tend to think that both the action and the characters are simultaneously too silly and not silly enough. Their particular stylistic balance just doesn’t work for me. My idea of a good James Bond movie would be movies like Mission: Impossible 2 (2000), True Lies (1994) and even xXx (2002): fun and stylism to spare, cool hi-tech and super-slick production values, and a neat touch of sci-fi. If we had Bond movies as good as that, then the over-the-top, superbly produced, far-out action-filled, mega-effectively entertaining and comical G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra would be the greatest Bond-movie yet made.
We’re in the near future. A weapons manufacturer named McCullen is plotting world domination, and only the secret, super-hi-tech elite team G.I. Joe can save the day. McCullen, however, has his own elite team which is pitted against the Joes, and towards the end of the movie it’s all-out war! McCullen’s evil cohorts – Zartan and the Commander – are not easily controlled and may just be controlling McCullen for their own purposes…
In short order the well-focused plot explodes with nanite bombs and a nigh-infinite supply of hi-tech gadgets and craft, both for undersea, land and air travel. It’s paradise for a sci-fi fan!
The story, too, is explosively packed with charismatic characters, their interrelationships and their background stories. It seems many audiences find this too much to take in, feeling confused and overwhelmed by the non-stop onslaught of cool details and plot entanglements – in this regard I relate this movie to movies like Spider-Man 3 and Iron Man 2, where a lot of people also seemed to complain that there was too much stuff crammed into the stories, but personally I like it this way. I want coherent complexity that doesn’t insult my intelligence, and this is what these movies give me.
G.I. Joe is a great movie. It’s got super-science spilling out of every pixel, campy characters straight out of a superhero comic book, great actors (Christopher Eccleston! Jonathan Pryce!) playing preposterous villains, and a substantial and character-driven story that looks very good super-imposed on the tongue-in-cheek James Bond-like plot! It’s so self-consciously done that it’s hilarious. And intentional hilarity signifies highly competent workmanship! In G.I. Joe this competence also extends to the rest of the production values, esp. the special effects which are superb. The end result is so much like a comic book come to life that it cannot but please any appreciator of superhero and sci-fi comics.
To sum up, if you are interested in hi-tech action and sci-fi, then this is one of the greatest sci-fi action movies ever made, and almost certainly the greatest in 2009. It knows what entertainment value is, and it shows it!
My DVD version is the standard UK issue, with English subtitles, a commentary track and a couple of featurettes – in short, just about everything you could want. And the subs do a great job of being in sync with the break-neck dialogue, which contains a plethora of quibs and jokes. This is goddamn great stuff.
DIRECTOR: STEPHEN SOMMERS
CAST: CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON, CHANNING TATUM, SIENNA MILLER, DENNIS QUAID, JONATHAN PRYCE, MARLON WAYANS, RAY PARK, AND OTHERS
RUNTIME: 118 MIN.
COUNTRY: USA/CZECH REP.