Snake Eyes Review: G.I. Joe Reboot Is Fun Enough to Survive Bad Fights

Henry Golding’s GI Joe origin story has enough flavor to make it through some of the worst fight scenes ever to dishonor screens.

Japan: Where Hollywood franchises get a new lease on life (if often by alienating this country until it feels cut off from the rest of the world, thus allows brand-driven movies to start from scratch). It worked on “The Fast and the Furious” with “Tokyo Drift.” It worked for “X-Men” with “The Wolverine”. It even worked for “3 Ninjas” with “3 Ninjas: Kick Back,” at least so far that movie paved the way for Hulk Hogan to star in “3 Ninjas: High Noon at Mega Mountain” a few times. the following year. And now – to a surprising extent even with that precedent – it works for “what Joe?” with “Snake eyes, a story rooted in the basics that overcomes some of the most sloppy action-movie-making ever to dishonor screens on its way towards starting a series that is on the brink of oblivion.

Coming to theaters more than eight years after the lighthearted success of Jon M. Chu’s “GI Joe: Revenge,” and requiring no precise knowledge of the previous movies or the Hasbro toy that inspired them, “Snake Eyes” is a generic “cage”. -battle orphans are recruited into the Yakuza and then try to find their way into Japan’s most respected ninja clan” the story that the valuable IP behind it seems is mostly irrelevant until the act. third move. The unsung hero – named Snake Eyes in reference to the memorable dice score rolled by the man who killed his father – is an empty vase. Henry Golding full of charisma with attractive looks and “of course everyone wants this guy on their side”.

After the awkward opening sequence confirms that “Red” and “RIPD” director Robert Schwentke still has all the visual flair of a prescription drug ad (side effects may include a lack of light in the cabin). bright, colorful close-ups, and numbing before the protagonist’s death; do not watch “Snake Eyes” if allergic to “Snake Eyes”), the film catches us with its protagonist about 20 years after he rolls across the docks in Los Angeles in search of the man who killed his father. A gig that replaces fish guts with machine guns at a pier run by the Yakuza finds Snake Eyes in the midst of a power struggle between two men vying for control of the Arashikage ninja clan: The Strictly Heir tough but dangerous, Tommy Arashikage (Andrew Koji), and unscrupulous outsider Kenta (Takehiro Hira).

Our hero’s former casket travels to Japan in his private jet — “I look you in the eye and I feel honored,” he explains — but Snake Eyes’ loyalty isn’t easy. easily secured; not when Kenta offers him the revenge he seeks in exchange for a mysterious heirloom hidden somewhere in the Arashikage’s mountain fortress.

The doctors added:

That’s where most of the movie takes place, as Snake Eyes – robbed of his only family as a child and always yearning for a place to call home – tries to prove his worth to the members. suspicious in Tommy’s clan. If it’s still unclear why Tommy was so determined to receive Snake Eyes as his brother in his arms, the tender gaze of Koji’s morally ambient performance (layered and nuanced) than what this document claims or deserves) helps distract from such basic questions.

So follow the prayers of the generous yet lovable side characters who fill the lavish Arashikage and confront Snake Eyes with the three “Trials of the Warrior” he We will need to pass to join their ranks. Haruka Abe is a popular character as Akiko, the skeptical but extremely sincere head of the Arashikage’s security department, who has a fickle distrust of Snake Eyes (and possibly the attraction of the Snake Eyes). herself to him) is the closest thing this movie has to sexual tension.

Chinese actor Peter Mensah (who once brought miraculous dignity to the TV show “Spartacus” which Starz made in a delightfully transparent attempt to launder high-speed light porn through shadow of prestige television) is delightful as the Blind Teacher reminds Snake Eyes that the Arashikage can be a safe haven for loyal outsiders who accept its ethos. Last but not least, “The Raid” star Iko Uwais serves up a lot of her signature smirk when “fucking around and finding out” when the “Hard Master” is invincible, whom Snake Eyes must defeat in the first of his three trials.

Alas, by the time Uwais appears at the beginning of the second act, it’s clear that Schwentke won’t know what to do with him. Uwais is a highly skilled fighter who comes from a family of true martial arts masters and has the ability to perform the kind of lengthy “they really did it” fight choreography rarely seen in cinema. Western photos; Schwentke is a studio hitman who apparently shoots action scenes by strapping the camera to the back of an angry rodeo bull which he then launches in the general direction of his actors.

Yes, that approach can be difficult to guarantee, but whatever rope Paramount has to pull is certainly worth it in exchange for the erratic and incoherent footage that even the cutscenes that stop the animal combat. The most interesting is also reduced to the abstract idea of ​​violence in cartoons. Not even the highlight of Hollywood’s shaky-cam golden age can fully prepare you for the Dadaist nonsense on display whenever people start punching each other in “Snake Eyes,” because there isn’t a fight scene in this movie that wouldn’t be more interesting than if it were lensed on an iPhone that an intern produced leaning against a tray of hot potatoes on a craft service desk.

“Snake Eye”

The result is completely wrong for a popcorn movie about the most silki martial artist in the universe “GI Joe”, a character whose two distinguishing features are “dressing like a BDSM ninja” and “looking as thin as a BDSM ninja”. hell when cutting bad guys”. Whatever the “Revenge” fault was, at least Chu understood it. Regardless of the merits of “Snake Eyes,” Schwentke got it so wrong that it almost felt like he was trying to sabotage the movie inside and out (which is well worth doing for Cobra).

A broader interpretation would be that Schwentke is leaning on the rare summer blockbuster that largely avoids supernatural nonsense and CGI-heavy settings in favor of something more physical, and – in essence – “Snake Eyes” often feels like a refreshing change of pace for both of those reasons. The outfits are fun (Tommy’s Gucci-like white ninja suit and Akiko’s snake-scale chest suit find designer Louise Mingenbach at the top of her game). The Japanese locations are evocative (it’s hard to overstate the difference between filming along the banks of the Sumida River and faking Tokyo in the soundscape, as the latter approach renders even horror films Big fees like “F9” and “Avengers Endgame” feel cheap by comparison). And the team building is so heartwarming that it almost surprises you when Snake Eyes slips into wide shots as eight other interesting characters stand by, even as some of them have been re-edited as Evan. Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse’s script with the clumsiness of a child trying to play with their action figures all at once.

And yet, the action scenes are so inexplicably painful – and the character in “Snake Eyes” is surprisingly strong – makes your heart sink every time the sword swings. The good news is that the much-discussed mortal “third challenge” that awaits Snake Eyes at the end of the second act is more than just another duel. The even better news is that Snake Eyes, Tommy, Akiko, and the rest of the crew are happy to watch parts of the movie when you can actually see them, and they’ll thrive in a potential sequel ( with another team behind the camera) if Paramount’s dice roll on this not-so-proper franchise somehow pays off.

Grade: OLD

Paramount will release “Snake Eyes” in theaters on Friday, July 23.

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