Sigh. Of all the benighted franchises that Hollywood has offered, few are comprehensibly unloved as the GI Joe films from toy-makers Hasbro, whose Transformers movies have similarly gone off the boil. Creating a franchise looks easy until you try it, but the third GI Joe movie bears only tangential connections to the first two efforts. Set in a world before 2009’s Rise of the Cobra and 2013’s Retaliation, Snake Eyes seems to be the origin story of the Snake Eyes character, now recast as the smouldering Henry Golding.
After witnessing the murder of his father by a villainous character called Snake Eyes (he rolls his dice to score Snake Eyes before he kills), Snake Eyes adopts the name Snake Eyes as he sets off on a quest to kill Snake Eyes. Got that? Nope, not me either, and we’ve barely started. Snake Eyes makes a living as some kind of illegal MMS fighter before being recruited to some kind of Yakusa crime-ring. Clonked on the head, Snake Eyes wakes up in a Tokyo ninja palace where he picks up the trail of those who killed his father…
That’s not the most coherent summary I’ve ever written, but then again, Robert Schwentke’s film isn’t the most coherent film I’ve seen. The first hour is serious minded Japanese crim-movie stuff, and unlikely to appeal to kids or families. But the second half of the film throws up motorbikes chases and giant snakes, and offers some eye-candy to waken up slumbering punters. There’s some waffle about the origins of the Cobra organisation featured in the other films, but these questions are less-than-compelling. The only people asking questions about the continuity of the GI Joe films are those unfortunate enough to have the job of writing about it.
One critic has suggested that Golding should send a copy of this movie to the James Bond producers as an audition tape; that would certainly be the case if he doesn’t want the job, since the star is alternately shrill and dour in equal measures. Golding has presence, but there’s nothing he can do with such a half-assed role in a half-assed film; money has clearly been thrown at the screen, but even without a pandemic, the result should be considered inessential for all but the most devoted action hounds. Right up there with the XXX films in terms of skewhiff continuity, Snake Eyes is some seriously shonky product that you should find easy enough to avoid.