Friday, 16 December 2011

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

I was ready to hate this. A film based on a children’s toy screams ‘cynical marketing ploy’. But I don’t want to hate films, where is the pleasure in that?

So I kept an open mind when I watched this. And so dear reader I have to confess. I enjoyed this.

Yes, I know the dialogue is horrendous, with the script often operating as a conveyor belt of exposition. Yes, I know that the film is populated with identikit cross section of characters: tough guy hero with a dark secret, irritating wise-cracking best mate, ultra professional hot babe, mysterious silent type, along with a leathery commander to inspire them.

But you know what? I still liked it. Even with the flimsy, clichéd back stories the characters are given to add dramatic depth to the plot.

Let’s remember this is an action film for kids. It’s not to say you can’t have a beautifully scripted film with original characters but I’m not sure those are the deciding factors for a 9-year old.

What director Stephen Sommers delivers is regular amounts of glossy action against a clearly delineated good vs evil backdrop. In that regard GI Joe is no better or worse than, dare I say it, Star Wars.

So anyway, if you haven’t seen the film the plot involves the theft of an unstoppable super-weapon. Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans find themselves recruited to a top secret task force to retrieve the stolen super weapon. However, the theft of the weapon isn’t perhaps all it seems and is merely a ruse to distract attention from the a much larger and more ambitious plan.

The film opens with the theft of said super-weapon. Tatum and his men are transporting the weapon in a convoy supported by two helicopters when they’re set upon by the forces of Cobra. As the film is set in the near future some of the aircraft in this movie futuristic. So the attack is led by a vehicle which look like the shuttle craft you see in science fiction films.

The helicopters open fire on the Cobra vehicles but their bullets aren’t able to pierce the armour. The Cobra craft return fire using a strange percussive weapon which seems to fire a solid sound wave. They crunch in the front of the first helicopter which caves in and forces the rotor blades off. It bursts into flame and plummets to the ground in front of the convoy.

The second helicopter attempts to continue the fight, but its weapons are useless. It launches missiles which are simply shot down. The Cobra craft fires another round of it’s odd weapon.

The helicopter pilot just has time to say “Oh my god” before his chopper is destroyed. The helicopter plunges to the ground in juicy glowing orange chopper fireball.

Artistic merit

I love the reaction of the pilot just before the second helicopter is destroyed. You can’t beat a good “What the….” moment when someone realises they’re about to meet an untimely death. I also loved the crumpling effect which destroys the choppers.

Exploding helicopter innovation

First known destruction of a helicopter using a sonic gun perhaps? Certainly the crumpling of the front of the helicopter is a *ahem* wrinkle I’ve not seen before.

Number of exploding helicopters



The film finds a decent role for Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Heavy Duty. I’ve previously only seen him in the TV prison drama Oz. He played the fearsome Simon Adebisi with a thick Nigerian accent so it was really weird to heart his normal British accent.

It’s nice to see him get a big part in a high profile film because he was brilliant in Oz. He played Adebisi with a the lazy, swaggering, confidence of the biggest bully in the school playground. If you’ve never watched the series I can’t recommend it, and his performance, enough.


The script. It really is an atrocity.

Favourite quote

“You’ve really tossed the caber out the park with that one.”

This bonkers line is uttered by Christoper Eccleston who plays the villain McCullen. Presumably, the original line was something like “Hit that out the park.” I’d like to hear more common idioms given Scottish makeovers.

Interesting fact

Apparently Channing Tatum was initially not keen on taking the role in GI Joe because he didn’t want to glamorise war. Fortunately for the makers of the film he had no moral objections to shamelessly glamorising children’s toys.

Review by: Jafo


  1. I agree Adewale was great in Oz..I particularly liked his little hat and his ability to force strangers to have sex with him.

  2. OK, it's seriously deficient in plot or acting. But in this genre, those two ingredients are as superfluous as canoes in a desert. Good review.