At The Picture Show
'Team America' without the puppets
Makers of 'G.I. Joe' apparently think this is an actual movie
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Director: Stephen Sommers
Screenplay: Stuart Beattie, David Elliot and Paul Lovett, based on the Hasbro
Starring: Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols,
Christopher Eccleston, Adewale Akinnouye-Agbaje, Byung-hun Lee, Joseph
Gordon-Levitt and Dennis Quaid
Rated PG-13 / 1 hour, 58 minutes
(out of four)
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is not, and should not be confused with, just another
dumb summer blockbuster. Rather, it is a movie so oblivious of itself that
parodying it would be redundant.
In fact, the parody has already been made. Five years ago. And it starred
marionettes. Yes, Trey Parker and Matt Stone's Team America: World Police
made a movie like G.I. Joe look foolish . . . only a half-decade before this one was
even released. Watching G.I. Joe now, it's alarming how close Parker and Stone
actually came. If I didn't know better, I'd assume they actually used a rough draft
of this script as their template for Team America.
But don't just take my word for it. Let's consider the evidence.
It's understandable enough that the basic focus of
both films - a ragtag group of elite, highly-advanced military personnel working
for a powerful and secretive government syndicate - is similar. ( I mean, what else
could G.I. Joe have been about?) So the filmmakers get a mulligan there. The rest
of the similarities, however, are too uncanny to be forgiven.
You know the young hotshot stud in Team America who's recruited to join the
team, only he's harboring a guilty conscience for having caused the death of a
loved one? Yeah, G.I. Joe has the same main character (only he's not a Broadway
In both movies, all the members of the team are identified by one specific
characteristic, and our newcomers are indoctrinated into their respective teams
through their cunning use of a cheesy '80s "training" montage. Didn't Team
America completely destroy future use of such montages with their unforgettable
"Montage" number? Well, nobody told the makers of G.I. Joe.
Remember the scene in Team America where
terrorists destroy the city of Paris, even knocking the Eiffel Tower to the ground?
Yeah, that happens in G.I. Joe, too. And how about the hilarious Face/Off-style
Advanced Science-Fiction Face Surgery scene from Team America? Remember
that? Yeah, that same scene somehow finds its way into this movie, too. Don't
Last but not least, perhaps the funniest and most over-the-top dialogue exchange in
Team America comes when the blonde insists she won't sleep with our hero unless
he promises that he will never die. He solemnly obliges: "I promise - I will never
If you thought G.I. Joe was above something so ludicrous, you'd be wrong. That's
right, in a flashback, we see Ana (Sienna Miller) telling our hero, Duke (Channing
Tatum), that she'll marry him on one condition - that he promises not to let her
dear brother (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) die at war. She says this with a somber face
and the hint of a tear in her eye, and Duke indeed obliges: "I promise."
And . . . scene! And royalties to Messrs. Parker and Stone, I presume.
But enough with the comparisons, as impossible to ignore as they may be. It's one
thing to be a standard-fare action flick, a movie without lofty ambitions, a movie
designed simply to entertain an audience - but it's another thing entirely to exhaust
all of the worst cliches of the summer blockbuster, especially at a time when those
cliches have been lampooned and exposed beyond all credibility. G.I. Joe is a
movie so thoroughly behind its time, you can't even say it's ripe for satire -
because we're even beyond that.
One can't even make the argument that the movie is
just silly fun - the drama is played too straight and earnest. G.I. Joe certainly
doesn't take itself seriously as a drama, but it does take itself seriously as an action
movie. The filmmakers seem to be blissfully unaware that their film is a two-hour
In fact, it's been reported that there was originally going to be a scene at the end of
the credits in which the silent member of the team, Snake Eyes, tells a joke to the
rest of the crew - only the filmmakers decided against it, as it would "detract from
the seriousness of the film."
G.I. Joe is made up of relentlessly one-note characters acting out relentlessly banal
action sequences with relentlessly amateurish writing. This is a movie whose one-liners have their own one-liner addendums, just to make sure it's dumbed down
enough for everyone to understand what was just said.
This is a screenplay in which the best response any writer could come up with for
the city of Paris being destroyed is, "The French are pretty upset."
And then there's Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols,
whose performances consist of looking smoking hot in, respectively, a skintight
latex bodysuit and an anatomically correct rubber bodysuit.
This is not a complaint. On the contrary, I think more movies should be based
around that general premise. But when the most interesting and creative aspect of
your entire movie is the size and shape of a pair of body-armor breasts - and the
noticeable aesthetic decision not to include nipples - well then there's really
nothing more that needs to be said that a cast full of puppets hasn't said already.
Read more by Chris Bellamy