This one is a real mixed bag. On one hand, this is heads and shoulders better than any of those other G.I. Joe movies from 2009 and 2013. On the other hand, the bar was really low for those films so Snake Eyes had to really stumble badly to not exceed those.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins tells the background of one of the most popular of the characters from the G.I. Joe franchise Snake Eyes, even though it felt more of a story of Stormshadow than Snake Eyes at times.
We started out with young Snake Eyes as a child (not called Snake Eyes yet.. played here by Max Archibald) who was with his father (Steven Allerick) in a cabin. Giving a real Mortal Combat (2021) feel to it (you could almost have photocopied the scene), people arrived to try to kill his father and little Snake Eyes had to escape to save himself. His father does not make it out and Snakey had to watch the cabin burn with his father inside.
I was impressed with the performance of Max Archibald as the younger version of Snake Eyes. He had to deliver several different emotional beats and he does an excellent job.
Years later, we met underground fighter Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) who was beating the crap out of other fighters. He was approached by Kenta (Taskehiro Hira) who wanted Snake Eyes to work for him. Snake Eyes took him up on the offer and was involved in cutting up fish to hide gun shipments inside. Then, there was a traitor in their midst and Snake Eyes was given a gun to kill Tommy, the said traitor. Snake Eyes can’t do it and the two of them fought their way through all of the gang. After escaping from their clutches, Tommy (Andrew Koji, doing his best Tommy, the Green Ranger impression) offered Snake Eyes t come with him to his clan.
Tommy was the next in line to rule the clan, currently run by his grandmother (Eri Ishida), and he wanted Snake Eyes to join the clan so he could fight by his side. There are three challenges that Snake Eyes has to complete to pass the test and if he couldn’t pass it, he would die.
Snake Eyes struggled with his anger, his need for vengeance and his guilt during these trials.
I did not know this was going to happen, but we got some other members of the G.I. Joe cast making appearances here. From the Joes, Scarlett (Samara Weaving) was here and we also got the Cobra villainess, The Baroness (Úrsula Corberó) These two women were fun, but seemed out of place for a good chunk of the film.
Some positives. Henry Golding was fantastic as Snake Eyes. He is a great actor and really worked in the role. Although the character of Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe never spoke and Golding talked all the time, I feel that may be a future development for the character. I really liked Golding.
Even better was Andrew Koji, who was the perfect casting for Stormshadow. I believed in this character the entire movie. Of course, this brings up one issue I had with the film. This felt like Snake Eyes was the antagonist of his own movie. It felt like Tommy was the protagonist and he was the character who had the most story arc. I did not quite understand why the film was setting them up as such. Were we to be cheering for Snake Eyes? Because that felt wrong. Also, when Tommy turned to the dark side, that felt a bit rushed. Either way, both castings were excellent and I liked their interactions.
I have seen this criticism elsewhere and it is 100% the biggest flaw of the film. This being an action film with a lot of fighting…HOLD THE DAMN CAMERA STILL!!!! I have never felt as if I needed a Dramamine before as much as I did during EVERY fight scene in Snake Eyes. You could not see anything happening during EVERY fight. If this was a stylistic choice, it was a bad one. I have seen shaky cam before, but never as much as we see in Snake Eyes. The inability to see action scenes in an action movie ruined what could have been a passable movie. There are times when I came to dread the next fight.
As I said, this is better than The Rise of Cobra or Retaliation, but it does not reach the level that it could have been. It may be a positive step forward and maybe a sequel will imporve.