Written by Alexander Reams
When I think back to my childhood there are certain events I remember, and yes most of them revolve around films. I remember seeing G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra with my father and seeing the character that would become one of my all time favorites, Snake Eyes. The following Halloween and Christmas I had something Snake Eyes related for the holiday. So upon hearing that a film revolving around the titular character was in development my excitement went through the roof. Then when I heard the casting for Snake Eyes I got a tad skeptical, Snake Eyes is such a cool character that is based in his silence and letting his fight skills do the talking for him. Casting someone like Henry Golding would most likely mean that Snake Eyes would not be taking that vow of silence. And just as expected Snake Eyes having dialogue in the film turns it from mediocre to awful.
The film feels like an ill equipped first time director is at the helm, however once the credits roll, so did my eyes. The plot, as one would expect, is simple. Golding’s Snake Eyes rescues his future nemesis, “Tommy/ Storm Shadow” from the Yakuza and in return, Snake Eyes travels with Tommy to be trained in the ninja ways of the clan Tommy is from. Completing the origin story of the legend that Snake Eyes would become. Robert Schwentke, the same man who single-handedly killed the Divergent franchise, made Ryan Reynolds boring in R.I.P.D., and Helen Mirren unlikable in RED, is running the show. It clearly suffers from his direction, choosing quick edits and shaky camerawork over long, clean, takes and smooth Steadicam work. The style he equipped for shooting these scenes, egregiously stands out during a sequence at the docks. The amount of quick cuts made is nauseating. This made the film borderline unwatchable for me and actively frustrated me throughout. This combined with the comedically terrible script makes the technical side of the film insurmountable at best.
Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, and Samara Weaving do the best they can with what they are given. That being said, there is still a lot to be desired from Golding’s performance. Stepping into a role that was made iconic by Ray Park (Darth Maul in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace) already put pressure on him to succeed. Physically, Golding commits himself to the role, clearly showing his ability to do stunt work, but in the quieter scenes he is not given near enough for an actor of his talent. Koji tries his best to keep up, but borders on becoming a comically bad, unfortunately stereotypical, Japanese character. Samara Weaving’s role is small, but her performance was as good as Golding’s. I am definitely looking forward to seeing more of her in the G.I. Joe universe. This film is clearly made by an outsider to this culture who tried to Americanize the film when instead it should have been made to honor the culture it so poorly apes. It’s not only technically bad, but disappointing for the G.I. Joe fans everywhere and I hope they will redirect the course with new screenwriters and directors.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins Trailer
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is currently available on VOD.