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G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

August 10, 2009  |  12:30pm
G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Release Date: Aug. 7
Director: Stephen Sommers
Writers: Stuart Beattie, David Elliot, Paul Lovett
Cinematographer: Mitchell Amundsen
Starring: Channing Tatum, Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid
Studio/Run Time: Paramount, 118 mins.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra is not nearly as bad as most people seem to have hoped. Relentlessly generic and the clear product of corporate synergy, this inane live-action cartoon probably deserves the bad press that has hounded it all summer, but watching it, a strange thing happens. By the final bombastic minutes, it's inspired something close to goodwill.

To be sure, the movie contains the line “Bloody hell, they’ve built a military base under the polar ice cap!” and still manages to be boring. But after $400 million in ticket sales for a movie as contemptible as Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, G.I. Joe’s relative coherence and goofy visual style is hard not to appreciate on some level. It involves an international military force (made up of models in general, Channing Tatum in particular) that must stop a guy with a retro accent who blows away the French capital and has similar plans for, you know, the rest of the world. 

From there, a long roster of actors (Sienna Miller, Dennis Quaid, Joseph Gordon-Levitt) auto-deliver some fearsome one-liners and tens of millions go toward hilariously wonky special effects. As we've come to expect, director Stephen Sommers (he of Van HelsingThe Mummy and other unknowable movies) is blithe and witless behind the camera. No actor comes close holding the screen.

But then come the credits, along with a curious sense of calm. One meaningless scene after another, the movie is finally just too frivolous to elicit any real reaction, bemusement, anger, whatever. It's almost quaint. In retrospect, it's enough to make you long for the transcendently awful movie it might have been.

Watch the trailer for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra:

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