Reviewed by: Michael Karounos
|Featuring:||Dennis Quaid (General Hawk), Channing Tatum (Duke), Sienna Miller (Ana/Baroness), Marlon Wayans (Ripcord), Joseph Gordon-Levitt, more »|
|Director:||Stephen Sommers—“The Mummy,” “The Mummy Returns,” “Van Helsing”|
|Producer:||Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Hasbro, Di Bonaventura Pictures, The Sommers Company, Stillking Films, Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Bob Ducsay, Brian Goldner, Erik Howsam, Cliff Lanning, David Minkowski, JoAnn Perritano, Stephen Sommers, Matthew Stillman, David Womark|
“When all else fails, they don’t”
“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” is heavy on special effects, short on character development, and indifferent to plot logic. Were those its only faults, it would be no worse than many summer action movies. The problem with a movie that calls itself “G.I. Joe”—but which is expressly non-American—is that it’s like a watching a foreign movie with American actors. It sounds right, but the value system is alien to American sensibilities.
The premise of the movie is that a Scottish weapons dealer—the latest descendant in a long line of weapons dealers from the UK—is selling a warhead that explodes a cloud of robotic nanomites onto its target. The nanomites, an idea seemingly ripped off from the remake of “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” can devour entire cities if not deactivated. The American government naturally purchases four warheads with the direct involvement of the American President. Not surprisingly, they are stolen and the chase begins.
Metaphorically speaking, ideological space is extremely important in movies. The location of where things take place and what gets blown up and who does the blowing up are the keys to deciphering the message of a movie like this. In “G.I. Joe,” the weapons, originating from a British citizen, are used against France, Russia, and the United States. The United States, via its proxy, NATO, is guilty of funding and purchasing weapons of mass destruction; France is guilty of purchasing them in the past; the UK is guilty of distributing them; and Russia is just guilty for no apparent reason. Like “Mission: Impossible III,” the movie’s animus is directed against the military-industrial complex and nations who profit from it. However, there is no anti-Christian bias in this movie as there was in MI III.
All movies are politically coded, and this one is no exception. Stephen Sommers made his bias clear in a pre-release statement:
“When it comes to selling G.I. Joe outside the U.S., the message is ‘this is not a George Bush movie—it’s an Obama world’ …Sommers even expects G.I. Joe to perform better overseas.”(http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/news/la-fi-ct-gijoe3-2009aug03,0,4109393.story)
“It’s an Obama world” is an explicitly racial statement and Sommers backs it up by casting an American black, an English black, an African black (Moroccan), and a masked man who conspicuously looks black as four of the six leads for the Joe team. Meanwhile, the white-haired, white President is shown in a plot twist to be a villain bent on world destruction. It becomes clear to the viewer that the white-haired Bush is the inspiration for the war-mongering President and only a multicultural team like the Joes can counter the influence of the evil American.
“G.I. Joe” is not as good a popcorn movie as “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen,” but it still has nearly twice as high a rating at Rotten Tomatoes, reflecting its more liberal sensibilities. In the world of Sommers and the script writers, the terrorism the world faces is American, not Muslim. In light of the recent French movie, “Taken,” whose subtext is about a hostile Muslim minority at war with the society it lives in, it is ironic seeing a Moroccan trying to save the Eiffel Tower. It is the kind of well-meaning (or, depending on the point of view, deluded) thinking that infuses films like this and like “Mission: Impossible III” which also featured an international array of characters trying to keep America from destroying the world. For Hollywood, the enemy is always the United States.
Young children will neither see nor care about any of this, and for them there are many positives. There is no inappropriate sexual content; there are only a couple of graphically violent moments which leave the characters horribly defaced (a theme of the movie); the emphasis is on teamwork; and the movie values romantic love and loyalty. On the other hand, the movie is spiritually vapid and glorifies the physical body whose apotheosis is the exoskeleton the Joes wear to become superhuman.
Overall, it is a silly, cartoonish movie and will disappoint adults with a brain. If money is tight, see it on DVD. This one can wait.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: None
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.