Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes

Movie Review: G.I. Joe: Snake Eyes

By Brian Griffin


Who would have thought a spin-off movie of a toy franchise wouldn’t be the best movie of the year?

Now I can’t say that I’m the ultimate G.I. Joe superfan. I can’t even say I remember anything about the original movies in the franchise, except for the fact that Channing Tatum was in them. So a spinoff movie about the origins of one of the characters, that might actually be a reboot, wasn’t actually a movie I was counting down the days to see.

The story is that of Snake Eyes, played by Henry Golding, as he searches for the man who killed his father. Classic action movie things. From here Snake Eyes joins the Yakuza, then realises that maybe organized crime syndicates aren’t that nice so he leaves them to join his new friend Tommy in Japan. Tommy, played by Andrew Koji, is a member of a clan in Japan that trains Snake Eyes. However, in a cruel twist of fate, Snake Eyes is playing for both good and evil, a trait that carries until the final act.


Henry Golding is definitely the most recognizable name in the cast, and even though I would rate him highly after great performances in Crazy Rich Asians and The Gentlemen he has not quite achieved the household name status to carry a movie’s marketing. Especially when Marvel has a Martial Arts movie coming out in two weeks. The cast is filled out by Andrew Koji, mentioned above, and Haruka Abe as Aikka, the pretty badass head of security. The last name you might know is Samara Weaving as the G.I. Scarlett. Weaving was outstanding in 2019’s Ready or Not, but unfortunately, she doesn’t appear for most of Snake Eyes.

The behind the scenes crew of Snake Eyes is definitely not what you would expect for an Action/Adventure/Fantasy. At the helm is director Robert Schwentke who was actually also in the director’s chair for RED and R.I.P.D. which makes sense, but also The Time Traveller’s Wife, which I have to admit, was a bit of a surprise. In the writing department was Evan Spiliotopoulos, who was also recently behind 2019’s Charlie’s Angels, remember that? And also the 2017 Beauty and the Beast remake, which I did enjoy. The other writers involved were the pair Anna Waterhouse and Joe Shrapnel, who were behind 2020’s Rebecca.

Now when it comes to dissecting the movie, I do have to say there was one part that I both loved and hated. There were the fight scenes. I love the idea of two swordsmen fighting against 30 Ninjas as much as the next guy, but some of the camera work was so shaky in parts, that I couldn’t rightly see it. From what I could see, the fights were over-the-top fun, where the bad guys missed every bullet and the heroes missed none. However, with the likes of physical fights in movies now competing against the likes of John Wick and Atomic Blonde, Snake Eyes just couldn’t cut it.


Like I was saying earlier, Henry Golding is a cool dude. He has all the makings of a top-tier talent, but he just couldn’t show that here. He plays Snake Eyes, who in the G.I. Joe universe, does not talk. If you look closely you will see that Golding actually talks for the entire movie, so it did irk me that they didn’t honor the character from the franchise itself, but that wasn’t old Henry’s fault. If you want to see Golding at his best, check out The Gentlemen or Crazy Rich Asians, this isn’t the last you will be hearing of him.

When thinking of things that I liked in the movie, I couldn’t help but think of the set designs. A different choice I know, but they are well done. The Japanese street involved in one scene is very well done but by far the coolest place in the movie, was the Minka (yes I had to google it) that belonged to the clan. It’s where we spend most of the movie and always looks very cool. From what I saw online, the clan’s headquarters actually consists of a few Japanese landmarks in real life, from numerous locations around the country.

Inevitably I’m going to end up saying the things that weren’t great, and where’s better than this paragraph. Really the biggest disappointment I had after the movie was the lack of Samara Weaving. She appeared frequently in the trailer and I thought that she would be a proper character, but at best she is a tool to connect this movie into the wider G.I. Joe universe. Apart from this, my main gripe was the constant flip-flopping in morality, culminating in characters that switched allegiances for no other reason than to provide some extra conflict.

I don’t like being too harsh about movies, Snake Eyes didn’t try and be a Marvel movie which you have to give it credit for. It took a chance, but unfortunately this time it just didn’t pay off, and I can’t see any sequels in its future. The action was cool, but the story was weak, and in the end, that was the final blow.


Snake Eyes is in cinemas now