Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (2021) movie review
Snake Eyes is a prequel/spin-off from the G.I. Joe series following the titular Snake Eyes. Henry Golding stars as Snake Eyes, a loner who is given an opportunity to join a clan after saving the life of Tommy, the future head of the clan. Snake Eyes opened this weekend to fairly underwhelming (meaning generally negative) reviews, and if the turnout from our Friday night show is any indication, it aims to disappoint financially.
I was holding out some hope for Snake Eyes. It looked like it was going to same a smaller-scale story, focus on character drama with some awesome martial arts thrown in, and not get lost in trying to tell an origin story. It was none of those things. Snake Eyes is a busy, generic, and downright messy film with no likable characters, poorly shot and edited action, and a story that I couldn’t care any less about. So if all you want is to kill two hours with an action movie and you don’t care what it is, I guess you can go see Snake Eyes. I mean, I didn’t ‘hate’ it or anything. I just didn’t like it.
So one of the biggest things working against the potential in this film is the messy story, of which there are two. In your A Story, you have Snake Eyes joining this clan as a path to redemption type story, where of course the impending bad guy who just happened to be the employer Snake Eyes worked for is coming to destroy the clan or whatever. Then you have Snake Eyes and his revenge story, where he is trying to find his father’s killer. (Something they tell you forty seconds into the movie.) I suppose this could work, but it feels like neither story is developed enough to really care about them.
On top of that you have Úrsula Corberó as Baroness representing Cobra and Samara Weaving as Scarlett representing the Joe’s. And neither of these characters nor their their respective organizations matter whatsoever to the film except making it more connected. If you told me right now they were both added in reshoots because this generic martial arts movie didn’t have enough connection to G.I. Joe, I would believe you. What’s worse than having characters that don’t matter is having characters that we just don’t like. I didn’t like the character Snake Eyes. Sure it’s intentional and he has some sort of character arc, but gosh I just didn’t buy it. We needed either his movie OR the movie about Snake Eyes, Tommy, and the clan. Maybe this could have been Snake Eyes and set up for joining the clan in the next one.
Which brings me to another point, Snake Eyes is either too long or too short. It’s really boring, so I’m going to call it too long. I literally fell asleep at one point, because action was happening and I felt no connection to any of the characters or anything in the story. I think a major element working against the entertainment value is the action. First, every action scene is the same. Small fight, more people run up, good guys surrounded, strike a pose and fight all of them very quickly. I kid you not, that happens like four or five times, and twice during the same action sequence. Also every fight, despite being well choreographed, is shot on shaky-cam and full of quick cuts.
A few positives: As I mentioned, the choreography was pretty great! it’s a shame I could see roughly none of it. The performances weren’t bad either. Henry Golding does a solid job for what he is given. He somehow manages to sell the character change even though the story is working against this believability. I really wish Corberó and Weaving had been in the film more or not at all, because I feel like they both did a good job, but they weren’t given enough screen time to tell. Also I thought the score was pretty decent. I haven’t listened to it yet though, so I’m not sure how it holds up without the film itself.
So Snake Eyes isn’t terrible, it’s just not good. I wish it were more of any one thing, but instead we get as much as you would expect to be crammed into a movie with the words origins in the title. The performances are fine, but they don’t save the film from a cast of dislikable characters who are part of a bland and generic story. The biggest drawback for me was the action. Snake Eyes had the potential to be a spectacle of sword-fighting, as it tradition with the character. So why are we still shooting and editing these solid fights like it’s in the mid-2000s? Yeah I’m going to forget about Snake Eyes in a few days… 4/10.
So Snake Eyes? Did you see it yet? What did you think? And tell us what we should review next, because we STILL have a ton to get through and not a whole lot of time to do it. Escape Room 2? Fear Street? Gunpowder Milkshake? help us pick what to talk about so we can deliver some quality reading that you guys want to read! Anyway thanks for reading our review of Snake Eyes! Hope you liked it and that it helps sell you on the film. Leave a like if you could, or maybe even a comment…? Anyway it really helps us get the handle on what you all like and don’t like to read!
-review by Ryan Prince