How do you review a movie that is so bad words cannot describe the sheer pathetic audacity of the filmmakers to dare label it a “film”? Perhaps just like that. G. I. Joe, one of the more anticipated films of 2010, was a dismal failure. For good reason. The narrative is nothing but a long string of irrational logical contradictions and plot fumbles usually detected in the stories of three-year-olds, with nothing to connect them except for a wearying barrage of explosions, sparks, floods of cascading water, and poorly CGI-ed electrical currents.
The characters stride through the film, barely interacting with the world around them and unable to show normal human emotions like suspicion, skepticism, passion, or even an interest in their own dialogue. They serve as nothing more than coils for moving the plot forward. Every line is an info dump, and so carelessly performed that there might be one believable line in the entire film. When suddenly confronted by Cobra technology, our lead character (named, of all things, Duke) barely musters up the ability to be interested in how such technology even exists. When a hologram shows up. communicating with him, his face is utterly impassive, and he expresses no curiosity about how this sort of tech is even possible.
The story is utterly incoherent when it isn’t busy being so overly cliched that it feels as though it were being channeled straight from a high-tech Days of Our Lives. See, Duke loved Anna, who had a younger brother, Rex. Rex and Duke were in the same unit, and Anna made Duke promise to protect her brother. But her brother is blown up in an explosion in Afganistan or somewhere (we’re not told, but it’s a sandy bit of anonymous Middle Eastern desert). That was four years ago. In the present, Anna is now working for Cobra. When Duke is rescued by the G. I. Joes, he immediately signs up, and now Duke and Anna are On Sides Apart. Even more implausibly, it turns out Rex survived the explosion in Afganiwherever, and while in the bunker that exploded, managed to find a hidden high-tech lab developing nanotechnology. Horribly mutilated in the fire, Rex is now Cobra. Seriously. I mean, this isn’t a pitch for a piece of internet fanfiction. This is the best the elites in Hollywood could come up with. And trust me, the execution is even worse. We rush from scene to scene and the characters barely show signs of emotional response. The bad guys blow up the Effel Tower and they go, “oh no.” Their emotional state does not carry over to the next scene.
Then there are the gaping, giant myriads of plot holes slapping you in the face the entire time. Cobra has developed nanobots that can be injected into the brains of humans and disable the conscience and fear glands, making for perfect, fearless, remoresless, numb killing machines. These are the Cobra footsoldiers. We’re even shown one of the grunts sticking his arm into a tank with a king cobra snake in it and getting bit without flinching. Except in the next scene, the drones are screaming when they’re set on fire and blown apart. So . . . they do feel pain and fear, contrary to what was just explicitly stated?
Then we’re plagued by the never-ending flashbacks. Dear God, there are a lot of flashbacks. And not the good kind. In the middle of a scene, a character will lean back in his chair, close his eyes, and remember . . . . You couldn’t get more amateur writing if you stood it on the Washington steps and had it dance naked in front of every camera in the country.
But strangest of all is the fact that the G. I. Joes are no longer “real American heroes.” They’ve been turned into an international coalition sponsored by NATO. While I am certainly no American shill, it strikes me as nothing but a bald political statement that they don’t even bother to explain away. Like in Superman Returns, when they tell us that Superman is fighting for “truth, justice and all the rest of it,” instead of “truth, justice and the American way.” Do I particularly care? Not really, but the classic by-lines of these franchises are being abandoned for no better reason than to comfort the PC crowd.
With a chaotic and nonsensical plot, full of holes, poorly sketched back-stories, nonexistent characters, logical contradictions, cheese-ball dialogue, (oh, did I mention that the President of the United States has a British accent?), G. I. Joe may be the worst film I’ve seen in the last five years. Not recommended. At all. Burn every copy you find. If you bought it, you may be beyond help.
Rating: 1/2 of * star, out of *****