Reboots and remakes have become the norm in Hollywood as studios attempt (some failing) to revitalize popular intellectual property. Is it a cash grab? Possibly, or is it a way to bring fresh ideas from passionate individuals eager to get their hands on the material. Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins or simply put Snakes Eyes is following in the Transformers foot septs regarding turning over a new leaf with their most popular character leading the way (at least there isn’t 5 terrible G.I. Joe films before the reboot came).
As fans may know from the previous films or even the animated series or comic books, Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) is a selective mute by choice but this is an origins story so the mute aspect of his character may come later if a sequel happens to be green lit and made. But since he’s the lead character and the charming, charismatic, and handsome Goulding is playing the role, there is no way this version won’t stay quiet, at least for now. How could they also hide his face for 2 straight hours behind that upgraded classic mask? There’s no way – the same can be said for the MCU, having their high-profile actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans in their comic accurate headgear for a fraction of the films running time. At least we get the fully costumed Snake Eyes at the tail end of the film that is more disappointing than its potential implied.
Who doesn’t love an Americanized action film involving highly skilled ninja assassins’ globe-trotting to exotic locals? Personally, I do, that’s why the John Wick franchise has been so astoundingly successfully and where Snake Eyes potential came from. And the popularity of G.I. Joe in some capacity. Opening the way many origin films do, a younger Snake Eyes (his actual name is never given) and his father (Steven Allerick) are on the run. From whom they are on the run from is unclear and made known halfway into the films plot. The father is murdered by way of a game of chance, rolling of a pair of heavy loaded dice that just so happen to land on Snake Eyes – a lazy storytelling tool of giving our protagonist his namesake.
From there, Snake Eyes is given the opportunity to take revenge on his father’s killer by Hard Master (Iko Uwais) by working for him. Smuggling guns in fish guts is screenwriters Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel & Anna Waterhouse’ way of showcasing Snake Eye’s rudimentary knife skills (also, it’s the 21st century, isn’t there a better way to smuggle firearms into the United States).
For an action movie with one big fighting set piece after another focused on close-quartered combat is it too much to ask for the camera to stop moving so much? I don’t find the shaky cam to be too much of an annoyance but when we’re blessed with films like Extraction or John Wick it’s enough motion to not take grievance with. Put the camera on a tripod and let the action speak for itself.
Opposite Goulding’s Snake Eyes is Tommy Arashikage (Andrew Koji) who takes Snakes Eyes in when Snake Eyes saves Tommy’s life from his uncle. There are times when the film has us sympathizing with Tommy even though we know where his character ends up (It’s spoiled in a tv spot). Snake Eye’s is kind of a dick to the person who gave him something he needed most in life besides revenge – a sense of home and belonging. Having Snake Eyes constantly bite the hand that feeds him is not making his good guy hero persona something to root for and get behind. Yeah, we want him to get the revenge he seeks but there’s no need to alienate a friend in the process. After all, it’s in these characters nature to constantly measure their sword lengths.
Snake Eyes is easily digestible, immediately after viewing the entire film could be forgotten, just another reboot of a franchise that has faded into obscurity. Not much thought is needed to view this film based on its thin plot and shallow characters. Beyond Goulding and Koji, who are serviceable and do the best with what they’re given, some supporting characters are placed just to remind you of the universe that this film takes place in. Scarlett (Samara Weaving) and Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) to be exact. Both actresses are wasted here and aren’t given much to do but keep the rivalry alive – all of which in the final act of the film is predictable and a common team up trope. If neither were in this film, there would be no connection to the G.I. Joe universe, who knows if this is even in the same universe as the first two films.
The good thing about Snake Eyes is that it’s at least marginally better than its predecessors offering more substance behind its two leading men but not much else. So much potential is lost with cinematography that couldn’t quite capture the brutality of the action while at times showing some promise during the car chase scene.
Snake Eyes is written by Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel & Anna Waterhouse, directed by Robert Schwentke is Rated PG-13 and has a 40% on Rotten Tomatoes. Snake Eyes was released on July 23, 2021 in the United States and has a runtime of 2 hours and 1 minute. Snake Eyes can be seen currently in theaters. 1 out of 5.