The latest film in the G.I. Joe cinematic universe has arrived with “Snake Eyes: GI Joe Origins”. The film was originally planned to arrive in March of 2020 but faced delays due to cinematic closures during the Pandemic. The film opens with a young boy being orphaned after a group of thugs kills his father. Years later the man is still obsessed with finding out who killed his father and earns a living in underground fighting known as Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) His exploits get the attention of Kenta (Takehiro Hira); who hires him into his organization with a promise to help him find the man who killed his father. Snake Eyes soon finds himself working on the docks where he smuggles guns into fish bound for Japan. Despite his misgivings working for criminals, he befriends a man named Tommy (Andrew Koji); who teases him about his demeaning work by calling him “Fish Boy”. When Kenta forces Snake Eyes to kill Tommy for being a spy; Snake Eyes refuses and the two make a daring escape to Japan. It is learned that Tommy is next in line to run his clan and that Kenta was banished years prior and plans revenge. Despite mistrust from a trusted associate named Akiko (Hakura Abe); Snake Eyes begins his training in the Ninja Arts which should he survive will make him a valued part of the Clan which Tommy believes is correct thanks to his Blood Debt to Snake Eyes. The film focuses on various aspects of training before branching into the larger story of divided loyalties and honors which results in a few battles and chases along the way. While the film does space the action out; it does provide some great cinematography and the action is entertaining even if it lacks much tension. The biggest issue is that the G.I. Joe/COBRA connection seems a bit forced as The Baroness (Ursula Corbero) arrives to move things along but it is mainly for the purpose of getting characters to do this and get that so the film can move towards the climactic action. Samara Weaving does show up as Scarlett but she does not have a very large part in the story and aside from a few limited action moments; she seems to be more of the token G.I.Joe representation. Golding and Hira are very good and their intertwined and complicated relationship is giving plenty of time to develop as their past is a large part of their futures and the film does a good job in explaining their past and future motivations. The film blends Asian and Western film styles and in doing so creates an enjoyable film that for me was more enjoyable than the prior films in the series. To me those films focused mainly on action and this one was focused on developing characters. While it remains to be seen what direction future films in the franchise will take; it would be interesting to see more of Snake Eyes story down the line. 3 stars out of 5
If you are looking for the G.I. Joe style storytelling and action this may disappoint. It's a very different style and kind of predictable in many ways.
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