The bar is very low for "Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins" to impress audiences.
The last two live-action G.I. Joe movies, 2009's "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" and 2013's "G.I. Joe: Retaliation," have poor ratings on Rotten Tomatoes ranking at 34 and 29 percent, respectively.
But with "Snake Eyes," the film gives audiences a lead character to clearly follow and take interest in. Though the film has flaws, a well-rounded cast welcomes audiences back to the G.I. Joe action movies in this fast-paced martial arts film.
Snake Eyes | Final Trailer (2021 Movie) | Henry Golding, G.I. Joe www.youtube.com
As the name implies, this movie follows the origin story of one of G.I. Joe's most popular original, fictional characters. After tragically witnessing his father's death as a young boy, Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) grows up on a vengeful path to find his father's murderer. With no leads, Snake Eyes hesitantly relies on Yakuza crime boss Kento (Takehiro Hira) to offer him information in exchange for a deal.
In his quest he forges relationships built on wavering trust with Tommy (Andrew Koji), an heir to his family's clan, and their trusted chief security officer Akiko (Haruka Abe). Oh – and Scarlett (Samara Weaving) arrives for backup when The Baronness (Úrsula Corberó) becomes a bigger threat in this game. Snake Eyes' self-worth and skill is tested as motivations change by the minute.
The lead actors, directed by Robert Schwentke, do a phenomenal job. Golding can do anything on screen and make it look charming. But the writing and delivery direction is questionable at times. Some one-liners trigger frequent sighs and eye-rolls upon hearing them, and it's so jarring to take viewers out of a serious moment.
Cinematography is also hit or miss. The film primarily takes place in Japan, with colorful neon lights and traditional Japanese-style rooms lined with tatami mats and shoji doors. One shot shows Snake Eyes parkour off various rooftops, then the camera makes a 90-degree turn around a neon sign. But most of the action scenes are filmed with a shaky style. The wobbly camera is so strong that it's nauseating to watch with no clear focus in the frame. There are a few clear angles with seemingly good fight choreography, so it's a shame that this cinematic style takes away from core scenes.
As a newcomer to the G.I. Joe series, it's hard to comment on specifics that fans would care about. But as a general movie-goer looking for something new to watch, "Snake Eyes" is worth the trip.
"Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins" premieres in theaters on Friday, July 23.
Follow the reporter at @s_incorvaia.