Let’s get this out of the way – Snake Eyes G.I. Joe Origins is vastly superior to the two previous G.I. Joe films in every way imaginable. This film, which bares no connectivity to the others, is like The Godfather whereas the others are Wise Guys. That is definitely good news.
In fact, Snake Eyes is a good film most of the time, thanks to focusing its story on the relationship between the title character (Henry Golding) and his blood brother Tommy Arashikage (Andrew Koji), who will eventually become the ninja Storm Shadow. The film, directed by Robert Schwentke from a screenplay by Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel, and Anna Waterhouse, is an exciting movie set in Japan and full of members of the Yakuza alongside a healthy amount of ninjas.
Going in, I didn’t really feel I needed a Snake Eyes origin story; I’ve read the classic Larry Hama comics, and even the less-said-the-better original live-action G.I. Joe film did a serviceable job at delivering a background for the character. However, the trio of screenwriters managed to deliver a new take on Snake Eyes that I found surprisingly engaging. The best aspects of their brotherhood and eventual conflict between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are delivered in a way that honours the roots of both characters. Golding and Koji work extremely well off one another, and I’d definitely be interested in seeing the two go up against each other again.
For the first two acts of Snake Eyes G.I. Joe Origins I was all in, except when the film started actually employing classic Joe/Cobra characters Scarlett (Samara Weaving) and Baroness (Ursula Corbero). Yes, this is a G.I. Joe film, but neither character felt really necessary; it’s more likely they were mandated to be included since this is still a franchise film. I would have preferred more subtle nods to the warring factions ( the quick exposition about each by Tommy and Haruka Abe’s Akiko totally would have sufficed), rather than shoehorning in Scarlett and Baroness, thought to be fair, the latter delivers the best line of the entire film.
While Snake Eyes G.I. Joe Origins never completely falls apart, the third act winds up veering into big action picture territory, including the use of a mythical stone with nuclear type powers. It was certainly no Weather Dominator, but after a fairly grounded and well-told story, I felt it was a shame that the film couldn’t quite stick the landing.
However, all told I enjoyed Snake Eyes G.I. Joe Origins. It was made for the big screen and considering the year we’ve had, if you’re a G.I. Joe fan and have the chance to sit in a theatre with a bag of popcorn and turn off your brain, I think you’ll find a lot to like about the movie.