Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins stars Henry Golding as Snake Eyes, a tenacious loner who is welcomed into an ancient Japanese clan called the Arashikage after saving the life of their heir apparent. Upon arrival in Japan, the Arashikage teach Snake Eyes the ways of the ninja warrior while also providing something he’s been longing for: a home. But, when secrets from his past are revealed, Snake Eyes’ honor and allegiance will be tested – even if that means losing the trust of those closest to him. Based on the iconic G.I. Joe character, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins also stars Andrew Koji as Storm Shadow, Úrsula Corberó as Baroness, Samara Weaving as Scarlett, Haruka Abe as Akiko, Tahehiro Hira as Kenta and Iko Uwais as Hard Master.
To forgive or to not to forgive, that is the question. You can forgive without forgetting or you can carry an anger with you that may erode every aspect of your life. Forgiving is not something that comes incredibly easy, but the alternative can control your every waking moment. When something truly vile happens to you or a loved one, it’s terribly hard to forgive. But to allow a person or persons that you have a disdain for to permanently live in your subconscious, that’s just bad for your mental health. Let the transgressions like a scar be a reminder of what was, but then you have to move on. I haven’t mastered this just yet, but it gets easier every day.
“We all make mistakes. It’s what we do next that really matters.”
If you ever wondered what made your favorite gun-toting ninja tick, look no further than Robert Schwentke’s Snake Eyes. However, this isn’t your typical hero journey, in fact, there’s almost nothing heroic about this origin story. While there are plenty of philosophical moments and quotes to live by, our protagonist is not someone you’d want to be like nor is he actually likable. Now, the film is action-packed, vibrant, and well fight choreographed, but I found the hero storyline to be lacking. There is a part of me that enjoyed that our hero has some edge to him and a past that leads to retribution. Nevertheless, the ends don’t justify the means and instead of being villainized, he gets rewarded for whatever reason. The most intriguing part of the film is Tommy and the Arashikage family drama and traditions. The martial arts culture of honor, heart, and respect coupled with sword fighting is always a joy to watch.
The film is visually pleasing and the high-intensity score helps to keep you locked in, but sadly Snake Eyes’ journey is less than honorable. Perhaps if the character was written a bit more charismatic, he would’ve been more enjoyable. Instead, he has a wooden smugness that is offputting. The character transformation would’ve been fantastic if it wasn’t him putting out a fire that he started. I’m not saying that any of this makes this a terrible film but Snake Eyes is not someone I was rooting for. The Storm Shadow origin is the most entertaining to see unfold. Not to mention, the way that Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow left things is the only reason I’d want a sequel.
Also, the way that Cobra and the Joe’s are subtly introduced was intriguing enough for me to want to see more as well. There is plenty to enjoy about the film but I foresee whatever comes next in the franchise will greatly surpass this one. Its rewatchiblity is medium. Oh, and there is a mid-credits scene.
Pacing & Pop
The pacing of the film is very fast in the first act, perhaps a tad too fast. Things unfold rather quickly and while we get some context after the fact, it doesn’t quite suffice. In the second act, the pace is a bit more tempered but that then leads to a somewhat rushed third act. What popped for me had to be the fight choreography. It is very fast, flashy, and loaded with swords.
Characters & Chemistry
With a cast full of great talent, its standouts are Andrew Koji and Haruka Abe. As Tommy, Koji commanded the screen with his smoothness and an attitude that let you know that he is in charge and you could be cut down at any moment. Haruka Abe as Akiko is loyal, confident, highly-skilled, and brought the best out of Henry Golding’s Snake Eyes. She brought compassion and understanding to the forefront. I wish we could’ve seen more from Scarlett (Samara Weaving) and Baroness (Úrsula Corberó), but what we got from the two was great and I hope we see them again. Weirdly enough, both of them gave of Black Widow vibes. We all know Henry Golding to be a great actor but this wasn’t his best outing. But perhaps when we see him in full hero mode in a sequel, he’ll dazzle as he normally does.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is currently in theaters as of July 23, 2021. Stay safe and enjoy.
Director: Robert Schwentke
Writers: Evan Spiliotopoulos, Joe Shrapnel, Anna Waterhouse
Producers: Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Brian Goldner
Executive Producers: Jeff Waxman, Erik Howsam, David Ellison, Dana Goldberg, Don Granger
Runtime: 2h 1m
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
Senior Critic. Observing the human race since 1988.