PHEW! That was a close one. Last week, I was lamenting the fact that G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was getting some excellent early reviews. This was counter to a prediction I made in one of my Movies I Haven't Seen posts that it would simultaneously suck balls AND blow donkeys. Since I have a perfect record in that category, I was rooting for it to fail, at least critically and behold, my wish was granted.
If you ever saw Team America and thought, "Man, this plot is awesome. I just wish it didn't have all those damn jokes," then G.I. Joe is the movie for you. Really, just about everything that happened in Team America happened in G.I. Joe, only the names changed. Destroy Paris while trying to save it? Check. Mad villain uses WMDs to create a new world order? Check. Big, dumb heroes fail utterly before finally defeating the evil organization? Check.
The movie opens in 1641 for some stupid fucking reason then flashes forward to some point in our near future. Christopher Eccleston plays McCullen, a guy who may as well have the words "I'M THE BAD GUY" tattooed on his forehead. Since it's obvious to everyone but him that he's a villain who intends to conquer the world, he decides go to elaborate lengths to steal some metal eating nanobots that were developed by his company instead of just loading them into his trunk and driving them out of the factory himself lest anyone suspect that he had anything to do with their disappearance, something that the good guys almost immediately suspect.
The military escort team transporting the warheads containing the nanobots is led by Duke, a character for whom I feel sorry because he's being played by Channing Tatum. Tatum is the actor you hire when you wanted Clive Owen but couldn't get him so you were willing to settle for Shia LeBeouf but couldn't get him either. Duke and his partner, Ripchord (Marlon Wayans), and the rest of their team get attacked by some group of evil commandos with way superior technology. So superior, in fact, that you'd think their goal of world domination would be possible without those metal eating warheads yet they seem focused on getting those. Duke recognizes the leader of the thieves as his ex-fiancee, Ana (Sienna Miller), though she mostly goes by the title Baroness these days. We find out in a series of long, dull flashbacks that Duke was apparently such an a-hole to her when they were together that she was driven to serve the cause of evil or something along those lines.
Duke and Ripchord get saved by the Joes, a super secret elite international fighting force who seem to have blown so much of their budget on their fortress beneath the Egyptian desert and their advanced weaponry that there was nothing left to hire a marketing firm to come up with a better name than "The Joes." The Joes fortress is so impenetrable that it takes Baroness and her partner in crime, Stormshadow, nearly 15 minutes to waltz in there and steal the warheads. The Joes discover that they're heading to Paris and head there at a leisurely pace while Baroness and Stormshadow weaponize the warheads and prepare to use them on the Eiffel Tower. Anyone who has seen the ads knows that they succeed in destroying the Tower but what you don't see are the scenes taken pretty much directly from Team America wherein the Joes actually manage to destroy way more of Paris in their pursuit of Baroness than Baroness herself did with the warheads.
Fortunately, at this point, they stop ripping off Team America and start ripping off Return of the Jedi when the Joes launch an all-out assault on McCullen's underwater fortress. Please note that, in 30 words previous to this sentence, I pretty much summed up the last 45 minutes of the movie. Had I added "lots of stuff blew up" it would have been 100% accurate.
G.I. Joe is a dumb movie but it didn't need to be smart to be entertaining. What it needed, desperately, were better jokes and a different actor playing Duke. Channing Tatum can look morose and that's about it for him when it comes to acting. When you're out acted by a member of the Wayans family, you know it's time to pack it in and go back to waiting tables. As for the jokes, very few of the lines that were meant to be funny actually made anyone laugh if the audience I saw this with was anything to go by, though I usually did chuckle every time Channing Tatum spoke.
I would love it if Hollywood would stop producing scripts based on known properties like G.I. Joe that look like they were written by fanfic writers. One has to question the sanity of studio heads who agreed to spend hundred of millions of dollars of their companies' money for movie that, story-wise, could have been written by guys like OptimusLover69 on Fanfic.com. The three worst movies of the summer season have been G.I. Joe, Wolverine and Transformers 2, all of which fall into the category I just mentioned. Then again, they all made heaps of money so it's doubtful that anyone major studio head will say, "That Clear guy has a point," and shut down production of G.I. Joe 2.
Best thing I can say about G.I. Joe: it wasn't as bad as Transformers 2. That a very low bar but they should take what they can get.