Home Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (12A)

Cast: Henry Golding, Iko Uwais, Haruka Abe, Takehiro Hira, Andrew Koji
Genre: Action
Author(s): Anna Waterhouse, Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel
Director: Robert Schwentke
Release Date: 18/08/2021
Running Time: 121mins
Country: Can/US
Year: 2021

Orphaned martial arts fighter Snake Eyes is determined to avenge the murder of his father. Scheming Yakuza boss Kenta offers to help Snake Eyes find the murderer if he will assassinate the kingpin's cousin, Tommy. As a man of honour, Snake Eyes refuses. A deeply grateful Tommy takes Snake Eyes to Japan to meet his grandmother Sen, who presides over the Arashikage clan of noble warriors. Snake Eyes agrees to undergo three ferocious challenges to prove his worth.

LondonNet Film Review
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (12A)

In a game of craps, a shooter has a 1 in 36 chance of rolling snake eyes – double ones – with a pair of dice. The probability that audiences will enjoy the rough and tumble of Robert Schwentke’s origin story is considerably higher, but far from a certainty. Arriving eight years after Jon M Chu directed the deeply disappointing G.I. Joe: Retaliation, this rumbustious reboot of the film franchise sharpens its blade on the tragic backstory of a masked, sword-wielding commando from Hasbro’s popular line of G.I. Joe toy figures dating back to the mid-1960s…

Henry Golding dabbles with an American accent depending on the gravity of the scene: the greater Snake Eyes’ inner turmoil, the more likely he is to slip into his native British purr, which sets hearts aflutter in Crazy Rich Asians. Physically, he is more than a match for intricately choreographed fight sequences and chases, performing many of his own stunts as part of an acrobatic international cast that includes Indonesian martial arts whirlwind Iko Uwais from The Raid films.

Screenwriters Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel and Anna Waterhouse justify every slash of a gleaming sword or explosion with kung-fu mumbo jumbo dominated by feuding clans, a DNA-protected magical artefact and three gargantuan computer-generated anacondas which constrict and consume the impure of heart. Voldemort would approve.

Orphaned underground fighter Snake Eyes (Golding) is haunted by the murder of his father (Steven Allerick), whose fate was decided on the roll of rigged dice. Power-hungry Yakuza boss Kenta (Takehiro Hira) vows to deliver the cold-blooded killer (Samuel Finzi) to Snake Eyes in exchange for unerringly loyal service. The brawler complies until he is ordered to assassinate the kingpin’s cousin, Tommy (Andrew Koji), heir to the Arashikage clan of noble warriors. In gratitude, Tommy spirits away his saviour to Tokyo to meet the current clan leader: his grandmother Sen (Eri Ishida).

With Tommy’s encouragement, Snake Eyes faces three fiendish challenges administered by Hard Master (Uwais) and Blind Master (Peter Mensah), which are designed to strip away ego, anger and fear. Head of security Akiko (Haruka Abe) observes the challenger with cold, suspicious eyes. Meanwhile, one of the high-ranking members of the Cobra terrorist organisation, The Baroness (Ursula Corbero), arrives in Japan to pilfer the Arashikage clan’s greatest treasure.

Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins milks every drop of angst from the lead character’s desire for vengeance, evidenced by the time Golding spends furrowing his brow or brooding rather than flexing muscles or scything through enemies. Frenetic editing of fight scenes is an ordeal for the eyes but a centrepiece skirmish on a moving two-level car carrier is thrilling. Corbero’s slinky archvillain seems more likely to fulfil fantasies in Christian Grey’s red room than mastermind a diabolical plot to undermine western democracy. Roll the dice and press your luck.

– Jo Planter

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