FILM REVIEW: GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra

12A • 117 mins • 12 August

Director: Stephen Sommers

Cast: Channing Tatum, Marlon Wayans, Rachel Nichols, Sinenna Miller, Christopher Eccelston, Ray Park

Rating:

Another week, another movie of the cartoon of the comic of the Hasbro toy line. This one’s by Stephen Sommers, blatantly going for another zillion-dollar franchise after The Mummy movies and, um, Van Helsing. No surprises, then? Well, whisper it, but GI Joe’s rather fun.

The plot is a game of soldiers. Trooper buddies Duke (Channing Tatum, recently seen as gangster Pretty Boy Floyd in Public Enemies) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are transporting a military nano-technology (it eats metal), when they come under air-attack from baddie organisation COBRA. Think SPECTRE from James Bond, with a metal-masked supremo and a Scottish henchman played by – It isn’t! It is! – a slumming-it Christopher Eccleston. To his dismay, Duke sees an old flame (Sienna Miller) with the bad guys. Soon he and Ripcord have signed up with an elite military unit, GI Joe, whose main toy is a cheesy speed-up suit that lets soldiers rush about like Speedy Gonzales.

Okay, so it’s dumb and dopey, with plenty of bumpy bits, some shonky CGI (do we sense another effects rush-job to hit the release date?) while director Sommers wouldn’t know a human nuance if it exploded up his tailpipe. But coming after Michael Bay’s terrifyingly psychotic Transformers sequel, it’s a relief to have a lowbrow fantasy actioner that’s lively and busy without being crushingly relentless. You have to forgive it a lot, including a silly Paris sequence in which zipping metal dolls have loads of cars chucked at them. But GI Joe has a genuine cliffhanger charm, especially when the last act becomes a whole string of pulp plot twists. The ending screams “To Be Continued”; we could do worse.

Andrew Osmond