Nathan is a film critic and aspiring author with a true passion for the film industry who hopes his writings will help launch his career.
Honestly, I'm not sure where to begin with this one. It's strange how all the signs pointed to this film not being very good but the film actually was good. More than that, really. It was well-crafted, emotional, and tense. It wasn't Crouching Tiger by any means, but it was entertaining and well-made. It's exactly what you'd expect from a G.I. Joe origin story. The film had heart, humor, and action and the characters had depth and purpose. There wasn't ever a moment where I thought a scene or a character was unnecessary. Everyone was utilized to achieve a final goal.
The film follows a young boy who witnessed his father's murder. That boy takes the name Snake Eyes and grows to be a fighter, filled with anger. When Kenta approaches Snake Eyes, he offers the identity of Snake's father's killer in exchange for a little favor. A few favors, actually. Snake wins the trust of Tommy, the latter welcoming Snake into his home and offering him a place in the Arashikage clan, if the three tests are passed successfully. As Snake grows to care for Tommy and Akiko, he must now choose what's more important: avenging his father or saving his friends' clan.
I was impressed with director Robert Schwentke's work on this film. He has had a few jewels in his career and a few stinkers, too, but Snake Eyes most definitely falls in the jewel category. He helmed a fun film that keeps us intrigued and interested the whole way through.
The acrobatics and swordplay were outstanding. Each of those sequences must have required months of training, which most definitely paid off in the end. I wager Andrew Koji did a lot of his own stunts considering he was the stuntman for Sung Kang in Fast & Furious 6.
The standout performer was by far Haruka Abe, who played Akiko, the head of security for the Arashikage. The bond she forms with Snake Eyes is beautiful and flirtatious, but never extends beyond that which is how it should be. Too many times in cinema history do we see the main character get the girl in the end. It's refreshing to see a man who doesn't mind being playful but doesn't want anything sexual either.
Henry Golding was a great choice for Snake Eyes. His veracity and determination were excellent qualities for the origin story and I hope to see those qualities flushed out even more in a sequel, should they make one. There's plenty of more story to tell. We need to find out how Snake loses his voice, after all.
Eri Ishida was absolutely brilliant as the head of the Arashikage clan. She took down a bunch of guys with a hand fan! How badass can one be! Seriously, though, Eri is a wonderful performer and brings out true leadership in her role. Peter Mensah is oh-so-brilliant as the Blind Master, one who showcases wisdom and hilarity with his tactics.
Honestly, I could go on and on about this entire cast. Everyone brought something to the table and it was obvious how hard they worked to make this film the best it could be.
The only negative I had with the film was that so much storyline was covered that it actually slowed the first half down a bit. You may not think that a GI Joe film would have so much depth to it but it did. That was both good and bad in a way, but it picked up speed again around the halfway point.
In conclusion, I understand if you didn't like Rise of Cobra or Retaliation. But let me assure you, Snake Eyes is nothing like them. It's full of heart and humor and incredible sequences that will keep you engaged from beginning to end. I give it a 3 out of 4.
© 2021 Nathan Jasper