If you go into this movie and don't realise what you're going to get then you deserve everything coming to you, even if that's a real downer for you. This is a movie based on a series of toys (G.I. Joe being the original, American version of our very own Action Man action figures here in the UK) and directed by a man (Stephen Sommers) well-known for providing spectacle over substance.
I can happily admit to enjoying many Stephen Sommers movies (even the
majorly drubbed Van Helsing) so I already had an idea that I was going
to like the G.I. Joe film. As things began, and it hits the ground running, I was
proved very much correct.
The story is pretty much summed up in the title, but I'll give the very briefest recap here. Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans play two soldiers who are tasked with carrying some dangerous warheads from A to B. When their convoy is attacked, they meet a team from the G.I. Joe program. One thing leads to another and the two men decide that they want a piece of that action. People fight each other, backstories are dripfed throughout the movie in flashbacks, and there's a chase sequence through Paris that's up there with the very best of modern popcorn entertainment.
The cast all do their jobs. Dennis Quaid is great as a tough-talking,
caring leader, Christopher Eccleston is good enough in his role
(he created the warheads) and the others all do just fine at portraying . . . . action figures on
screen. Tatum continues to be likable while scowling and
looking tough, Wayans is a lot less annoying here than he
usually is in any other movie and Arnold Vosloo does a very passable
Arnold Vosloo impression (see pretty much every other Arnold Vosloo
role ever . . . . . and don't think I'm demeaning him, I love his work). There are more tough men onscreen, portrayed by
the likes of Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Ray Park and Byung-hun Lee, and then some tough female
characters portrayed by Sienna Miller and Rachel Nichols. Joseph
Gordon-Levitt, Jonathan Pryce and some other famous faces (Brendan Fraser has a fun cameo) pop up to
flesh out the cast, and everyone is good enough to almost make you forget
it's going to be brainless, loud fun.
Then we get to the amazing, razzle dazzle, fireworks experience, and boy
does it deliver in that department. Things are a little bit slow and
generic in the first half of the movie (quick character sketches,
training montage, the mission briefing, etc. all present and correct)
but from the start of that aforementioned sequence in Paris things step up to another
level. It's fast and furious, it's loud and proud, it's delirious fun
for those who don't mind seeing some obvious computerised images
amongst some great, adrenaline-pumping action moments.
Mixing the essence of the action figures (keep an eye out for all of the little details that crop up throughout) with a number of elements that wouldn't look out of place in any James Bond movie, this is one of my favourite American action movies from the past few years.