Rating: 4 out of 5
Frankly, this is what summer movies should be like. The filmmakers have harvested the coolest elements from blockbusters over the past five or six years and thrown them all into one wildly entertaining, thoroughly over-the-top action thriller.
US soldiers Duke and Ripcord (Tatum and Wayans) are guarding a terrifying new nano-weapon when they're attacked and then defended by two outrageously high-tech assault forces. They of course eventually join the good side, the G.I. Joes, an elite team led by General Hawk (Quaid). These top commandos (including Nichols, Taghmaoui, Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Park) are hunting Duke's ex Ana (Miller), who has gone over to the dark side to help supervillain arms dealer McCullen (Eccleston) and his Vader-esque evil-doctor sidekick with their nefarious plan for world domination.
From the prologue (in 1641 France), the film is a riot of corny dialog, wild overacting and nutty plotting. But it somehow comes together into a consistent tone, with a driving pace that propels us through each increasingly nutty set piece. It's like gadget porn with pulse-shooting guns, super-strength suits and bullet-proof armour, plus swords, explosives, missiles and good old-fashioned cat fights in the sky, sea, mountains, deserts and cities. A hyper-destructive chase through Paris is hysterical in every sense of the word.
All of this is rendered with swooping camera work, constant effects and frenetic editing. In other words, this looks like the lovechild of Tony Scott and Michael Bay. But no, it's by Mummy-man Sommers, which kind of explains why it's so much fun to watch. Everything about this film is a fantasy, and most of it is borrowed from the likes of Batman, Spider-man, Iron Man, James Bond and even Harry Potter. In this "near future", digital effects are a fact of everyday life.
Bizarrely, the characters actually are allowed to develop beyond their toy-figurine roots. Everyone has a back-story (flashback alert!) that weaves into the madly convoluted narrative, not to mention romantic subplots and "surprise" revelations. All of which makes this easily the summer's best guilty-pleasure blockbuster. And don't act surprised that it sets up a sequel; the hint is right there in the title.
Facts and Figures
Run time: 118 mins
In Theaters: Friday 7th August 2009
Box Office USA: $150.2M
Box Office Worldwide: $302.5M
Distributed by: Paramount Pictures
Production compaines: Paramount Pictures, Spyglass Entertainment, Hasbro, Di Bonaventura Pictures
Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 35%
Fresh: 55 Rotten: 104
IMDB: 5.8 / 10
Cast & Crew
Director: Stephen Sommers
Starring: Dennis Quaid as General Hawk, Channing Tatum as Duke, Marlon Wayans as Ripcord, Sienna Miller as Ana / Baroness, Joseph Gordon-Levitt as The Doctor / Rex, Saïd Taghmaoui as Breaker, Christopher Eccleston as McCullen / Destro, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Heavy Duty, Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow, Rachel Nichols as Scarlet, Ray Park as Snake Eyes, Arnold Vosloo as Zartan, Kevin J. O'Connor as Doctor Mindbender, Grégory Fitoussi as Baron de Cobray, Jonathan Pryce as U.S. President, Leo Howard as Young Snake Eyes, Brandon Soo Hoo as Young Storm Shadow, Gerald Okamura as Hard Master, Karolina Kurkova as Cover Girl, David Murray as James McCullen - 1641, Brendan Fraser as Sgt. Stone