“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”
At Quality 16 and Showcase

Courtesy of Paramount

2.5 out of 5 Stars

If director Michael Bay (“Pearl Harbor”) and actor Jason Statham (“Crank”) decided to have a baby, that baby would be “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” The best of both worlds, the movie just oozes with special effects (reminiscent of Bay’s “Transformers”) and over-the-top action (like every Statham movie). It’s everything a $170-million movie is expected to be: flashy, loud and horrendously mindless. The story doesn’t make sense, the acting is atrocious and the one-liners are out of control. But by golly it’s fun to watch.

The plot is standard. A United States government transport carrying dangerous warheads is ambushed by an unknown organization with plans to use the missiles to create chaos in the world. But in the nick of time, the G.I. Joe team — a top secret, elite group of commandos — stops the assault and safely returns the weapons. As it turns out, though, the arms manufacturer who initially sold the U.S. government the warheads is a double dealer who then steals them back for the terrorists. The Joes spring back into action to stop the terrorist group’s sinister plans.

The fun comes with watching how insane the scenes are, because “Joe” doesn’t even try to mask the blatant unrealism that permeates the entire movie. It doesn’t matter that secret bases are located in the most inhospitable places in the world or that the G.I. Joe team has crazy futuristic devices that belong in sci-fi movies (maybe that’s why the U.S. is in a recession — all the money is going into funding laser weapons and super-suits).

But ignoring the obvious inconsistencies, the goal of the film is simple: go big or go home. It constantly feels like the movie is trying to one-up itself. When someone brandishes a handgun, another brings out a giant laser. When one person hits a car, another barrels through a bullet train. The madness just keeps snowballing throughout.

The ultimate debate surrounding the movie is not if chimpanzees could have done a better job acting than the current cast, but who exactly was the target audience for “Joe?”

The G.I. Joe franchise hit its peak in the mid ’80s, meaning that very few teenagers today know anything about Duke, Ripcord and the other iconic figures. Additionally, the MPAA rating for the movie is PG-13 because of some instances of strong violence, so the younger generation is barred from getting into The Joes this time around. That leaves the adults who grew up with the Joes. But that can’t be right either. The movie is far too dumb to be taken even remotely seriously. The marketing for “Joe” appears quite scattered, not unlike the movie itself.

There’s only one way to enjoy a movie like “Joe,” and that’s to completely excuse oneself from reality. It takes a lot of guts to free all inhibitions and step into that movie theater. But maybe that’s what being a “Real American Hero” is all about.

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