It was that bad?
Well... it wasn't nearly as bad as Transformers 2. G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra actually had some good moments and had some good performances, believe it or not. And it moved briskly, with no tortuously long scenes of utterly useless bullshit, such as someone's mom wandering around a college campus while drugged. But it was not, overall, a good movie, nor was it a good G.I. Joe movie.
Wait. So should I see it or not?
I don't know. I can't recommend it, but at the same time, it wasn't so terrible that it was a totally abysmal experience. Think of this way -- you know how the flick's currently got a 39% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes? That's how much of the movie you'll enjoy, versus 61% that was bad. But please keep in mind that even during the good bits, the movie is very, very dumb.
Continued after the jump! There couldn't be more spoilers, so consider yourself warned! And bring a snack! It's much too long!
Let's just start from the beginning. What's the plot here?
Well, evil arms seller Destro has created four nanotech bombs that basically eat metal and buildings and possibly people. He has sold these horrible new weapons of mass destruction to... er... NATO, I think.
What? Wait - really?
Yes. I'd say NATO was trying to keep the bombs out of bad guys' hands, but Destro makes it clear that they ordered them. Apparently, NATO has some serious shit about to go down. I think Sweden's about to get its ass kicked, frankly.
That makes me uncomfortable.
No matter, because while a small group of U.S. soldiers is transporting the bombs from Destro's super-hi-tech research facility in Kyrgyzstan, the Baroness and some Cobra troo--
Kyrgyzstan? The hell? Destro is making cutting-edge weapons of mass destruction in Kyrgyzstan? Is it known for its military research or something?
Er... no, but I can't prove that it would be ludicrous to put a billion-dollar military weapons research facility there. It just sounds ludicrous. So maybe it's fine.
Uh-huh. Please continue.
Destro plans to steal these bombs, because --
Now wait just a minute.
I'm never going to finish if you keep interrupting me.
Destro tries to steal the bombs? His bombs? He just had them!
Yes, but he doesn't want to get caught stealing them. He wants to look like a good guy.
Okay, but -- no, wait. What's he going to do with the bombs?
Blow up several major world capitols.
Wouldn't that ruin his "good guy" image anyways? Wouldn't it be far easier to skip that middle step and just go right to the bombing and world domination?
I'm sure Destro has his reasons. Anyways, Destro sends the Baroness and his Vipers -- and let me just cut you off here because no, there is no Cobra organization yet, but Destro is still calling his super-soldiers Vipers -- to retrieve the bombs. Duke, played by Channing Tatum, and Ripcord, played by Marlon Wayans, are the only two soldiers who survive the attack until the G.I. Joe team shows up and saves their asses (and the suitcase with the bombs). Snake Eyes in particular looks pretty cool, except when you see the massive lips sculpted onto his mask.
What possible reason would a combination-soldier/ninja include sculpted lips on his mask? For that matter, what possible reason could the filmmakers have had?
I don't have the faintest clue. To continue -- since Duke has never heard of G.I. Joe, he refuses to give them the briefcase with the bombs, and the Joes reluctantly bring him and Ripcord to the Pit, the massive G.I. Joe headquarters underneath the Sahara. It's awesome.
Really? You aren't being sarcastic?
Nope. There are thousands of soldiers there, training for every military situation; there are hangers, there's a preposterously large pool to conduct underwater training, and more. Admittedly, all the soldiers are generic white guys in the same camoflauge uniform, so there's none of the variety of the original Joe team, but at least it's all suitably epic and badass. It's genuinely cool, and actually well-suited to G.I. Joe.
Likewise, when the Baroness, Storm Shadow and some more Vipers show up in Mole Pods, blow a bunch of shit up, kill a lot of people, nearly kill Dennis Quaid, and escape with the bombs, it's also cool and very reminiscent of the original cartoons. I mean, the tech is bizarre, the fight is pretty action-packed, Storm Shadow and the Baroness escape with the bombs by stealing a jetpack -- it truly made me feel like I was watching a live-action G.I. Joe movie.
Am I on the right F.A.Q.? What the hell's going on here?
Oh, the scene isn't not perfect. For instance, Zartan comes with the bad guys, needlessly hangs around Storm Shadow and the Baroness while they injure Quaid and steal the bombs from his safe, but then disappears... only to show up as a camel driver directly above the Joe's HQ. This might be a more cunning disguise if, you know, he wasn't the only non-Joe in a 10-mile radius and the corpse of the real camel driver wasn't three feet away.
I have several questions about this sequence, which for convenience I'm going to ask numerically.
1) Does the Pit have no safeguards for intruders?
2) Does General Quaid really keep the world's most dangerous weapons in an office safe?
3) Why don't they kill Quaid?
4) Camels? Are you fucking kidding me?
1) I believe it's supposed to be inferred that the Pit isn't prepared for foes coming from underground, despite the facility being 98% underground. It may be a bit of an oversight. The fact that a ninja and an S&M queen can walk all the way to Quaid/Hawk's office without raising an alarm would be another one.
2) Clearly, the military budget was spent more on the 5-trillion gallon pool and not security measures.
3) Storm Shadow tries, theoretically. His inability to kill Hawk with his normally deadly blade is explained away by Hawk being "tough."
4) It's actually extra weird because Zartan smugly smiles right at the camera as if to say "Aren't I fucking stealthy?" And then Storm Shadow and the Baroness use the stolen jet pack to get on one of Destro's jets which flies away, which leaves Zartan in the middle of the desert, alone to... walk with camels.
And despite all this, the scene is somehow good?
I think so. I can get over plot holes if there's something to distract me from it -- decent characters, decent interactions, decent action. This is the latter. Thankfully, the Zartan insanity is at the very end, because otherwise it might have wrecked the whole damn thing.
Huh. So Destro's got the bombs back. What's his plan?
He's going to fire one of them at the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and terrify the world.
All right. That's not nearly as villainous as Cobra Commander murdering everyone in Moscow in the first two minutes of G.I. Joe: Resolute, but I can get behind that.
Uh-huh. First he has the Baroness force her husband to "weaponize" the bombs so they can be used.
The hell? She has a husband?
Yes. Who is a baron and an important scientist who can weaponize... things.
First of all, that's bullshit. Second of all, who the fuck cares why they call her the Baroness? Isn't she supposed to be Duke's old blonde American girlfriend in this movie anyways?
Yes. My guess is that because they made the horrible, hackneyed decision of making the Baroness Duke's ex (fiancée, by the way, not just his ex-girlfriend) they felt they needed to explain why she was called "the Baroness."
Why couldn't that have just been her codename?
I promise you this will not be the last simple, obvious solution to a ridiculous plot point you will see that the filmmakers did not. The point is that the bombs get "weaponized" -- by which I mean they turn glowy -- then Storm Shadow kills the baron-scientist, the Joes track them to the French research lab, and they all race to Paris.
Grr. Okay. Now terrorists have a bomb and are heading to Paris to use it, right? G.I. Joe must bring out the big guns for this battle. How many troops do they send? How many jets and jeeps and tanks and things?
Five people. But they rent a van.
I mean, I'm assuming. They're in a perfectly nice white van with no technological upgrades at all, such as one might rent at Enterprise.
Look, it makes more sense when you realize they're only chasing after two people in an SUV.