Category Archives: G is for…

G is for…The Glimmer Man

What can I say about The Glimmer Man?

It’s not crime-y enough to be a crime movie.

It’s not action-y enough to be an action movie.

It’s not buddy-y enough to be a buddy cop movie.

What it is (beyond a slog) is yet another vehicle for Steven Seagal (who not only stars as LAPD Detective Jack Cole, he was also a producer) to show off his skills at slapping grown men. For what the film lacks in genre, it makes up for it with slapping.


The film, directed by John Gray, opens with a dark credit sequence featuring deaths and Christian imagery. Eventually the viewer is introduced to Detective Jim Campbell (Keenan Ivory Wayans), who is working on the case of the Family Man, a serial killer who murders entire families and paints Christian symbols with their blood. Lovely, no? In Campbell’s office is a man wearing a long necklace that is clearly the focus of his outfit, and of course this is Cole. At first the two men don’t get along very well, but they never do get along well even at the end of the movie.

They’re sent to investigate another Family Man murder, but soon wind up at a local Catholic school, where student Johnny Deverell (Johnny Strong) is threatening his class with a gun. The scene is designed like a similar opening scene in Lethal Weapon, to advance the plot but really to demonstrate Cole’s skills in talking people down/supressing them. Another scene used to illustrate Cole’s abilities is the scene where he and Campbell fight the Russian Mafia.

The Family Man eventually kills again, but this time it’s Cole’s ex-wife and her husband. Cole’s prints are found on his ex-wife’s body, making Campbell question his new partner’s history and purpose. He has a right to be concerned, considering the viewer also knows Cole is friendly with Mr. Smith (Brian Cox), a man who clearly has crime syndicate connections.

One of those connections is Johnny Deverell’s father, Frank Deverell (Bob Gunton). The first murders Cole and Campbell investigated were for Deverell’s Russian translator, Sonya Roslov (Susan Reno). Eventually Cole realizes that the recent Family Man killings were not done by the actual Family Man Christopher Maynard (Stephen Tobolowsky), and that there’s a larger cover-up going on, likely orchestrated by Deverell.

Meanwhile, Campbell is attacked in his home, and his apartment is eventually burned down.

Cole and Campbell talk with Johnny, who explains that the copycat crimes were committed by his father’s head of security, Donald Cunningham (John M. Jackson), and also that his father has been working with Mr. Smith. Cole is able to torture Smith to the point of admitting that Deverell is smuggling chemical weapons from Russia so he can sell them to the local mafia. They leave Smith to find his own way to the hospital, and pursue Deverell.

Deverell is holding a meeting with the mafia and Donald, and of course when Cole and Campbell show up everything goes to hell. Donald shoots Deverell and everyone else winds up hurt if not dead, including Campbell, who is shot and falls through several windows. These events leave Cole to challenge Donald one-on-one, where of course Cole eventually emerges victorious.

Let’s get a glimmer of the criteria, shall we?

See what I did there?

A is for… Accents

The leader of the Russian Mafia of course has a Russian accent.

Smith has a Texan accent, which just seems weird in LA.

The maitre’d at Lento’s speaks with a fake Italian accent when on the phone with customers.

B is for… Bad Guys

Deverell is revealed to be smuggling chemical weapons into the country from Russia, which he will then sell to Serbian freedom fighters.

Smith is a government operative who Cole has worked with in the past. He is the one who supplied Deverell with his Russian contacts, and the Mafia brokered the deal.

Donald is Deverell’s head of security.

Christopher Maynard is the Family Man killer, though he was framed for the murders of Cole’s ex-wife and husband, and the Roslovs.

C is for… Chases

There isn’t an actual chase, but when the fake IA agents kidnap Cole, he fights and the camera cuts in and out of the car, and the whole scene has the vibe of a chase scene, complete with it ending with an explosion.

D is for… Damsels

There really isn’t a woman in the film outside of Cole’s wife, Jessica (Michelle Johnson). She barely plays a part, seeming to only be in the film to add some depth to Cole’s character.

E is for… Explosions

During the kidnapping scene, the IA agents use another car as a ramp, and that car explodes for some reason.

At the end of the scene, the IA agents crash into a tanker truck, which explodes.

Honorable mention goes to Campbell’s smashed TV burning down his apartment.

F is for… Flashbacks

No flashbacks, unless you count the clips during the opening credits.

G is for… Guns

Check out details at the IMFDB.

The first truly recognizable shot of the film is of a gun with a silencer being used to kill a woman.

Cole seems to like to engage in weird Mexican Standoffs, even though he’s a cop and shouldn’t have his gun out at every possible opportunity. With Johnny, and then the Russian Mafia, things escalate awfully quickly because of his handgun that he waves about.

Cole’s ex-wife and her husband are also killed execution-style, like the Roslovs.

Yet another standoff ends when Cole shoots Maynard in the chest.

When kidnapped by the fake IA agents, Cole grabs the one’s handgun, and pistol whips him bloody.

Everyone has a gun at the Ovington Hotel, and everyone seems to die in that room, with the exception being our stars and Donald.

H is for… Helicopters

The credits cite a helicopter pilot, but I don’t recall seeing a helicopter.

I is for… Improvisation

While not really an improvisation, I have to mention the credit card with the blade on it. Not only is it sneaky, it’s extremely effective against the mafia goons.

Cole uses a rotary phone as a club on Donald during their fight.

J is for… Jumping Through Solid Objects

In the first ridiculous moment in this film, Cole somehow manages to push Johnny out a window and across an alley into the building next door. Two windows, two people, zero laws of physics followed.

A mafia thug gets his head smashed through a car window.

Cole throws two thugs through two different glass walls/partitions at Lento’s.

Campbell has no choice but to leap through the window of his apartment when it catches on fire. Luckily a car breaks his fall.

During the kidnapping scene, the car drives through a glass window.

Campbell is shot and falls out a window, and then when Cole rescues him, they swing through yet another window.

Donald is smashed through a window at the Ovington.

K is for… Kill Count

Cole kills at least one mafia thug during their fight.

He definitely kills, if even indirectly, the two fake IA agents.

He also kills the thug at Johnny’s.

Several thugs are killed at the Ovington Arms during the final fight, but it’s impossible to tell how many.

L is for… Limitations

Due to his mysterious past and a fingerprint on a murder victim, Cole is considered a suspect in his ex-wife’s murder, though that doesn’t really seem to limit him too much.

M is for… Motivation

Cole is a cop, and he is trying to solve the cases of the Family Man. Of course, he eventually has to do a lot more than that, like break up a Russian Mafia crime ring.

Smith and Deverell are in it for the money, not surprisingly.

N is for… Negotiation

“Tell me or I’ll shoot you.”

Leave Cole alone and forget he exists, or he’ll kill him. –I have no idea who this is in reference to; my notes are not specific enough.

Cole has recorded evidence against Deverell, and he says he’ll give up the tape to Deverell if his name gets cleared for the murder of his ex-wife. After he kills Donald, of course.

O is for… One Liners

Campbell, upon meeting Cole: Look, Mr. Love Beads, you’re going to have to seek higher enlightenment somewhere else.

Cole: I like to testify as to what actually happened.

Campbell, to a Chinese saleslady: Do you know I’m black? I have no idea what you’re saying.

Thug: What bruise?
Cole hits him in the face: That bruise.

Campbell: No, I didn’t say tomato, I said terrorist.

Cole, to Smith: Listen, I only shot you in one foot. Hobble to the hospital.

Campbell, after almost shooting two kids: Showdown on Sesame Street. Big Bird will pop out of one of these doors next.

Donald: I woke up happy, and I’m going to bed happy, because you’ll be dead.

Campbell, to Cole: Not one good thing has happened since I met you.

Pretty much everything out of Campbell’s mouth is a one-liner, so I had to limit the ones I chose.

P is for… Profession

Cole came to LA from NYPD Homicide. He’s won medals, and seems to be a good cop, even though he waves his service weapon around at every hint of an opportunity. In fact, even when he’s kicked off the LAPD, he still shoots Smith in the foot and hand to get information.

Beyond the NYPD, his background is described as “smoke and mirrors.”

Smith helpfully explains, “He was a brilliant soldier. West Point, that kind of thing. I found him in Vietnam. Recruited him for a special project unit. The Program, we called it. He handled a lot of… odd jobs, for us. To the people he hunted for us, he was known as the ‘Glimmer Man.’ There’d be nothing but jungle…then a glimmer… then you’d be dead. He was booted out of the program in ‘84. Went native on us. Made up his own assignments, disappeared for months.” (This seems like a lot of Seagal characters, no?)

Cole says he was saved by a holy man, which is why he is a Buddhist.

Q is for… Quagmire

This is a Seagal film… He barely has any limitations, let alone something he seemingly can’t escape.

R is for… Reality, or Suspension of Disbelief

There isn’t anything too extreme, aside from the usual “Can a guy really survive crash-landing on a car?” and that sort of thing. And that ramp-car exploding for some reason.

S is for… Sidekicks

Jim Campbell is a good cop who likes old movies like Casablanca. He also is open to drinking Chinese tea and using holistic Chinese remedies, but it’s unclear whether these are actual traits or used merely for comedic effect. Campbell is effectively the movie’s buttmonkey.

T is for… Technology

This is yet another older movie where the technology is a distraction, such as the rotary phone used as a club, and the tape recorder used to record Smith.

However, cell phones are used to trick Johnny into thinking Cole was in the school office, rather than right outside the room. However, Cole charges in immediately after, ruining the effect.

U is for… Unexpected Romance

There are no women in this movie, except for Cole’s wife, so there is no romance of any sort.

V is for… Vehicles as Weapons

During the IA kidnapping scene, the car scrapes against stuff as Cole tries to survive.

W is for… Winning

Cole and Campbell record Smith confessing everything, including the guilt of Deverell. He tells them Deverell will be meeting with the mafia at the Ovington Arms hotel.

Donald learns of Deverell’s deception and shoots him. Most of the mafia is killed or injured in the shootout.

Campbell is also shot once he and Cole get involved, and winds up falling through two windows before getting rescued.

Donald and Cole fight hand-to-hand, and eventually the DVD I was watching skipped a few minutes so I couldn’t see how it ended. Fortunately, the whole final fight is on Youtube, so I can tell you that Cole smashes Donald through a window, after which he gets impaled on an iron fence. Overkill, much? …literally.

X is for… X-rays, or Maybe You Should See a Doctor

Cole is, of course, fine.

It’s Campbell who winds up bruised, battered, shot, cut, etc, and he eventually does get strapped into an ambulance.

Y is for… Yesterday’s Problem Becomes Today’s Problem

A guy with no past on the police force? What could possibly be strange about that? It’s Smith knowing Cole that has Deverell framing him, though it’s Cole knowing Smith that cracks the case open.

Z is for… Zone, In The

Cole is shown praying at his Buddhist temple, but he’s never really in a mental zone as far as fighting/training is concerned.

In Summation

As I stated at the beginning, The Glimmer Man is a genre mess. It’s certainly not the worst film out there, but it’s far from the best, too. It’s just… not interesting or fun to watch. Seagal is Seagal, and the rest of the cast is just sort of distracting. Campbell doesn’t really do much except take the hits and make jokes, and the villains are blah. What was noticeable was the music, which was simply bizarre at times and didn’t fit what was happening on-screen.

A few things of note:

The DVD I borrowed from the library was so old, or at least so poorly-designed, that the main menu didn’t have an option for “play.” I had to click to the “select a scene” page to actually find the “play movie” button.

Why was it raining basically the whole movie, when it takes place in Los Angeles? I’m sure it rains there, but most films focus on the heat and humidity, not pouring rain and thunderstorms. It was actually really distracting.

The film came out in 1996, but even assuming it was filmed in ‘94 or ‘95, it just looks way older than that, like from the late ‘80s.

The Asian wardrobe, including the Tibetan prayer beads, were very distracting. I know they were part of the character, but it was still distracting. I think I’m just traumatized by the endless leather fringe jackets in On Deadly Ground.

Bob Gunton’s presence was also distracting, through no fault of his own. I just too strongly associate him with the character of “Junction Jack” on ”Greg The Bunny”.

Those Russian Mafia tattoos were the most blatant tattoos ever–there is no way to cover them up!!

I’ve already mentioned Seagal’s hand-slappy fighting, but I’m going to mention it again.

It’s stated by the polygraph technician that a poly can be beaten if someone completely controls his emotions, but “I don’t know anyone who can pull that off.” …really? There’s a reason they aren’t admissible in court. So long as a person believes what he’s saying, he’ll pass it, or if someone controls his heartrate, etc.

The doves at the Roslov house made me think about John Woo movies.

There are real flames in the explosions and in the apartment fire. I don’t want to say it’s nice to see flame, but real pyrotechnics are a far cry above CGI fire.

I know Cole is supposed to be the “Glimmer Man,” but he really stands out a lot, with his height and his beads. A movie about him actually being the Glimmer Man would have been more entertaining.

There were certainly a lot of ways to go with this film, and picking one of them, rather than seemingly mixing several, would have resulted in a better film.


G is for… G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

Let me preface this analysis of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (directed by Stephen Sommers) by explaining that the only knowledge I had of the “G.I. Joe universe” before watching the movie is that the action figures were fully articulate, “G.I” stands for “government issued,” and something about a Cobra.  And oh yeah, someone at this year’s Halloween party was dressed as someone named “Snake Eyes.”

So I had to rely solely on the movie for story and characters.

…this was, shall we say, an unfortunate circumstance.  But one I was expecting considering one of the production companies listed in the beginning was Hasbro.  If I seem ignorant and like I missed something, it’s because I am and did!

But I will admit, if I’m in the mood for some explosions, cheesy dialogue, and special effects creating establishing shots that look like Microsoft sample wallpapers, and wondering just why Dennis Quaid needed money this badly, I may turn to G.I. Joe.  I may even make it a holiday tradition, considering that this year valuable holiday movie time resulted in G.I. Joe eclipsing A Christmas Story.  For shame, I know.

Let’s see, how to describe the plot…  The movie opens, strangely enough, in 1641 France, where a Scottish guy named McCullen (David Murray) gets a mask burned onto his face due to him being slimy (not literally, he was found guilty of treason).  Cut to the “not too distance future,” whatever the heck that means, and another McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) is presenting weaponized nanomites concealed in four warheads to a group of military professionals.  Once activated the nanomites take apart whatever they touch until they are deactivated.  An Army unit is given the job of transporting the warheads but they are ambushed by a UFO full of soldiers and a chick in tight black clothes.  But wait, mysterious people with futuristic weapons intervene, and the bad guys fly off.  Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) are the only Army guys to make it through, and the mysterious people take them with them.

To… Egypt.  There’s a super-sekrit base called The Pit underneath the desert, and that’s where the “Joes” have their home base.  Duke and Ripcord undergo a series of tests to prove that they’re worthy of being Joes, and they become part of the Joe team.  Meanwhile, it’s revealed that the chick in tight black clothes (Ana, former romantic partner of Duke) works with McCullen, who’d been trying to steal his own warheads back.  Which Ana (Sienna Miller) does for him during a raid of The Pit, with the help of Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee).  A group of Joes—Duke, Ripcord, Scarlett (Rachel Nichols), Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje), and Breaker (Saïd Taghmaoui)—tracks them to Paris.

Meanwhile, McCullen’s other sidekick is The Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), an expert in nanomite technology who has perfected the technique of using nanomites to take over people’s bodies and use them as slaves, or “nanovipers.”  The nanomites can also change a person’s appearance as necessary so another person can be replicated (or replaced), and this procedure is done to Zartan (Arnold Vosloo).

Back in Paris, the Joes engage in a chase of Ana and Storm Shadow, eventually realizing that they’re heading to the Eiffel Tower.  Unfortunately they don’t get to them in time—more on why not in the Chase section—and the tower is destroyed by the nanomites before they can be deactivated.  Also, Duke is captured by Ana and brought to McCullen’s super-sekrit fortress under the North Pole.

The Joes are ordered by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) to return to The Pit, but he agrees he never said when or what route to take, which encourages them to go find Duke.  He makes it easy for them by engaging the tracking beacon on the suitcase housing the warheads.  The Joes engage a full assault on the fortress, while Duke learns that The Doctor is actually Rex, Ana’s younger brother, whom he failed to keep safe as he promised when Rex was in his Army unit.  It’s also revealed that Ana’s personality changes since their relationship are the result of having nanomites in her body, courtesy of Rex.

During the climactic fight sequence, Snake Eyes kills Storm Shadow, The Doctor puts a nano-mask onto McCullen and declares he is now Destro, Ana gets shaken out of her nano-stupor, and the fortress is destroyed, but not before the three remaining warheads are launched towards Moscow, Washington, DC, and Beijing.  Snake Eyes blows up the Beijing one right away using the rocket launcher on one of the Joes’ snow mobiles.  Ripcord gets to demonstrate his flight skills by stealing McCullen’s jet and chasing after the other warheads.  He’s able to shoot them down before they cause too much damage.

The film ends with Ripcord and Scarlett in a relationship, Ana and Duke in a relationship, The Doctor—now the self-proclaimed Cobra Commander—and Destro in Joe prison, and Zartan in the Oval Office, impersonating the President.

If that sounds confusing, that’s because it is.  There are too many characters and too much expectation that the viewer knows anything about G.I. Joe in general.  The flashy special effects are also distracting.  There is, however, plenty of action and plenty of stuff for the criteria, so let’s begin.


A is for… Accents

Because the movie opens in 1641 France, everyone in that scene has an accent.  Why they couldn’t have actors speaking French and the viewer reading subtitles, I don’t know.  It’s a little jarring.

McCullen is Scottish, so, and I hate to say it, everything he says sounds slightly more maniacal than it’s meant to.

Ana’s husband the Baron de Cobray (Grégory Fitoussi) is French.

Storm Shadow is Japanese.

Duke actually comments on the Joes clearly not being Army because of all the different accents represented.  Heavy Duty is British, and Breaker is from Morocco.


B is for… Bad Guys

McCullen is depicted as the main villain, with The Doctor and Ana as his sidekicks.  McCullen weapons dealing goes back to the McCullen in the opening scene, nicknamed “Destro the destroyer of nations.”  Of course, this is exactly what current day (or future day) McCullen is doing, by developing weapons for the military and then stealing them back.  It’s explained that MARS (Military Armaments Research System), McCullen’s company, builds 70% of all the arms on the planet.  The tools are divided into sword (weaponry) and shield (defenses).  Overall McCullen is depicted as the power-hungry schemer, while The Doctor is really the brains and craziness behind the operation.

The Doctor is actually Rex, Ana’s younger brother who was also in Duke’s Army unit.  Rex was told to go into a bunker and Duke and Ripcord would follow him in five minutes.  Unfortunately the air strike was early, and the bunker got bombed.  Believed dead, Rex was buried and Ana grieved and didn’t forgive Duke, which is one reason they broke up.

However, before the bunker got destroyed, Rex saw the nanomite technology at work, changing someone’s appearance.  He also met Dr. Mindbender (Kevin J. O’Connor), who promised if Rex didn’t kill him, he’d show him how to use the technology.  Somehow, the combination of Rex getting horribly burned in the bombing, seeing the tech, and learning how to use it made Rex insane for power—or something, it’s kind of a tenuous link—and resulted in him ultimately donning a mask and declaring that the Cobras will now call him “Commander.”  Big words considering he ends the movie locked in a cell.

Ana is Duke’s former fiancée, and seems to only be “bad” because of the nanomites in her system.  She had no idea The Doctor was Rex.  Nanomites or not, she’s quite capable at hand-to-hand combat and weapons.

By the end of the film, the President of the United States is replaced with Zartan, which was part of McCullen’s plan for controlling the world—having the President under his power.

In my analysis I refer to the bad guys as “bad guys” because if you don’t know they’re supposed to be “Cobra” you wouldn’t from this movie.  The Doctor does love cobras but there isn’t any sort of unified organization.


C is for… Chases

There’s only one major chase scene designed as mid-film action, and while it’s rather entertaining, it’s also incredibly stupid.

In Paris, Storm Shadow and Ana have the warheads, and they’re driving a black Hummer.  The Joes—Duke, Ripcord, Snake Eyes, Heavy Duty, Scarlett, and Breaker—are driving a grayish van.  Snake Eyes almost immediately leaves the van and chases the Hummer on foot.  He actually catches up with it and hangs onto its roof, which allows the Joes to follow its progress because he has a tracking bug on him.  Duke and Ripcord also give chase on foot, but they’re in specialized accelerator suits that allow people to run faster, be stronger, and jump further, and have weapons built in and can withstand a lot of damage.  (Yes, add some repulsors and they’re basically Iron Man suits.)  Scarlett also steals a motorcycle off a passerby and chases using that.

The problem with this chase is multifold:

A) too much of it is clearly CGI and/or extremely fake, which is distracting.  This is most noticeable when the villains’ Hummer “explodes” and the flames originate away from it.  There are also a lot of cartoony background shots and cars flipping.

B) A lot of cars get flipped over.  Yes, the Hummer has a specialized cowcatcher on the front, and various explosions are happening between it and Duke and Ripcord, but if someone played a drinking game every time a car flipped a dozen or more feet in the air, he’d be drunk in no time.

C) Scarlett’s bike moves in a serpentine manner.  Seriously, that thing skids around using non-mechanical movements for a bike.

D) The Hummer is driving through rush hour traffic, which even the Joes comment on as they wonder why the Hummer would go through so much traffic if it were trying to get away from them, which is when they realize it’s not trying to get away, it’s trying to go somewhere, yet Duke and Ripcord can’t seem to catch up with it.  Yes, guns are being fired at them.  But if they’d paid more attention to where they were going, they should have been able to catch up because they’re more maneuverable than the huge Hummer.  Especially considering Snake Eyes caught up with it on foot.  Maybe they shouldn’t have spent so much time screwing around before actually starting the chase.

E) Eventually Snake Eyes drops off the Hummer because he knows—somehow—a train is about to smash into it.  Ripcord and Duke go through and over the train respectively, as the Hummer flips into the air, crashes, and explodes, killing the driver.  Ana and Storm Shadow have to run the rest of the way to the Eiffel Tower (well, the lab nearby where they’re going to have her husband activate the warheads) on foot.  Which they do.  So why the heck don’t Duke, Ripcord, and Snake Eyes chase after them?  Snake Eyes totally disappears during all of this, and Duke and Ripcord sort of lie in the street for a while bantering before remembering they’re supposed to be chasing after the warheads.


And where the heck is Scarlett during all of this?

Another chase is Ripcord flying McCullen’s jet after the missiles.  He catches the one from Moscow fairly easily, but of course has trouble chasing down the one headed for Washington, DC.  Cue a lot of banter and dizzying special effects.


D is for… Damsels

Yet another action movie with distractingly useless or stereotyped female characters.

The viewer is first introduced to Ana, as she and her men try to steal the warheads from Duke’s men.  The second he recognizes her, the viewer surely groans as he or she anticipates a poorly executed romantic subplot.  She’s quite a peach as she flirts with McCullen and reveals she’s married, but the manipulation is okay because she’s only married to her husband for his particle accelerator.  …no, that’s not a euphemism.  Ana is quite capable in combat, as demonstrated during the raid of The Pit.  Her evil tendencies are later explained as being caused by The Doctor’s nanomites in her system controlling her actions.  Somehow they also turned her from a blonde into a brunette.  I wonder if they’re also responsible for her awful, cheesy attempts at one liners and snarky dialogue.

The other damsel is Scarlett, who always seems to be wearing less clothing than the other Joes, up until the final raid on the fortress, anyway.  It’s explained she graduated college at 12, holds the record on the marksman challenge, and is reading a textbook while running on the treadmill.  Ripcord immediately starts flirting with her.  She launches into an argument for how emotions, because they can’t be quantified, aren’t real.  She’s quite the peach too.

Of course, both damsels end up involved with one of the Joes by the end of the movie.  All of the women (there’s a blonde Joe corporal who gets slaughtered during the raid on The Pit) have long hair.


E is for… Explosions

During the ambush of the Army caravan, all three Apache helicopters get blown up.

The Army uses grenades.

The Pit gets blown up in many places while Ana and Storm Shadow try to get the warheads.

Duke has a flashback to Africa where the bunker Rex is in gets blown up.

During the chase scene in Paris, the Hummer fires many missiles/rockets into the street traffic.

The Hummer explodes when it hits the ground after being hit by the train, though the flames are clearly generated not from the Hummer but from underneath the cars next to it.

Snake Eyes, the only character with any sort of situational awareness, grabs a snowmobile and launches a rocket at the missiles carrying the warheads.  He’s able to take down one.

The Joes have “sharc” underwater craft that have missiles/rockets on them.

McCullen has a pulse cannon on his fortress that causes a lot of damage.

McCullen’s men have underwater craft that look sort of like manta rays, and one of them smashes into a wall.

The Doctor orders the ice pack above the fortress to detonate, which causes a series of explosions.

The fortress itself explodes in pieces, conveniently behind Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Breaker as they run through the place, and conveniently in front of Duke and Ana to dramatize their escape and chase of The Doctor and McCullen.


F is for… Flashbacks

Upon first viewing, it felt as if half the movie was told in flashbacks.  I suppose that’s necessary, considering the sort of character building that had to be done, but again, if a phenomenon can be turned into a drinking game (take a drink when there’s a flashback), it might be overkill.

-“Four Years Earlier” Duke and Ana are celebrating, and he proposes.  We also see Ripcord and Rex.

-When Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow fight, there’s a few seconds of a flashback to the two of them fighting as kids.

-“Tokyo – Twenty Years Earlier” depicts Snake Eyes as a street urchin, eating food out of the trash.  He sneaks into a kitchen for real food, where Storm Shadow catches him and proceeds to fight him.  This fight scene is the best in the movie and one of the best I’ve seen in a while, as it harkens back to old kung fu movies with its improvisation, use of facial expressions, and real choreography not close ups.  Storm Shadow is angry when his master (Gerald Okamura) wants to take in Snake Eyes and train him to fight properly.

-Duke flashes back to “East Africa, Four Years Earlier” to a scene of warfare.  He tells Rex to go in and he’ll be in in five minutes.  The airstrike comes early and blows up the building Rex is in.  Cut to Rex’s funeral, sparsely attended, with Ana holding a folded flag.  Duke drives by on his motorcycle.  Also, it’s pouring rain.

-Storm Shadow flashes to another fight between himself and Snake Eyes as kids in Japan.  Snake Eyes gradually improves from a white belt to red to black.  He receives praise from their master, whom Storm Shadow proceeds to kill and then runs away from the scene.

-Ana gets a glimpse of her former blonde self kissing Duke.

-The Doctor flashes back to his moments as Rex in the bunker before it explodes, where he sees the nanoviper tech.  He seems enamored and downloads information from the computer.  Dr. Mindbender tells him, “If we live, I’ll show you everything.”  Rex perfected Dr. Mindbender’s research.

-Ana gets another, longer glimpse of her past self with Duke.

-Rex flashes to Ana being depressed after his perceived death and Duke leaving her, and Rex injects her with nanomites.  He explains to Duke outside the flashback, “I gave her purpose.”


G is for… Guns

Check out details at the IMFDB.

The Apache helicopters have guns.

The Army members have their service weapons.

The bad guys during the ambush have some sort of sonic weapons.

Scarlett uses a crossbow with a video screen.

Honestly the sword fights between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow are far more interesting than the guns.

The accelerator suits have guns attached to the arms that can fire fifty rounds a second.

McCullen’s men use their guns as clubs against Duke in the arctic.  There’s something especially entertaining about guns being used as blunt objects.

McCullen has a huge pulse cannon on his fortress that causes a lot of damage to Joe ships.

In the Presidential bunker where the President hides from the missile, his secret service agent (actually working for McCullen) shoots the other people in the room.

Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow also use throwing stars, which are more interesting than any of the guns.

Shootouts include: the opening ambush that surely takes place in the dark so less attention has to be paid to choreography, the raid on The Pit, Duke’s flashbacks to Africa, the Joes storming the fortress, and the “sharcs” versus the Cobra ships.


H is for… Helicopters

There are three Apache helicopters working with the transport caravan.

The bad guys in the ambush have UFO-looking aircraft.

The Joes also have futuristic aircraft.

Ana and Storm Shadow escape onto one of their craft in Paris, Duke with them (after performing an impossible leap from the roof into the sideways moving craft).


I is for… Improvisation

Other than the amazing Storm Shadow/Snake Eyes fight scene in the kitchen, there isn’t too much improvisation because everyone has toys.  There are tools to do everything.  Though Storm Shadow does throw spaghetti sauce into Ripcord’s face while trying to get away from him.

Snake Eyes does use his knife to disable to fortress door rather than do whatever electric tweaking Breaker was going to have him do.  Somehow it’s extremely satisfying having the guy who doesn’t talk get in the final word.


J is for… Jumping Through Solid Objects

During the Paris chase scene, Ripcord and Duke repeatedly get flung through buildings and windows.

Noteably, Ripcord goes through the train windows in slow motion.  Then he runs through a glass partition.  Then through a window and hall of the building while chasing Storm Shadow.  This is all capped by smashing through a wall with Storm Shadow.

After firing the warhead at the Eiffel Tower, Storm Shadow crashes through a window and onto the aircraft Ana is in.

In the fortress, one of McCullen’s men gets kicked by Snake Eyes through a window and then falls into a large electrical current that vaporizes him.

Storm Shadow shoves Snake Eyes through a window.  (one has to ask why an underwater fortress has all of this glass separating its sections.)


K is for… Kill Count

There’re so many explosions and shootouts and so much gunfire it’s almost impossible to keep track of how many bad guys the Joes kill, but a notable moment is Ripcord impaling a guy in The Pit with a forklift.

The only named villain to die is Storm Shadow, but because his body is never shown after going under the water he may be alive.


L is for… Limitations

Other than the usual “the good guys split up” and “new technology is being used,” the Joes don’t have many limitations.  They have plenty of toys to get the job done, and there’s never a moment of “Are they gonna make it?!” for the viewer.  There’s no work put into making the viewer even feel sorry for any of them.  Except maybe for Ripcord, but not in a “good” way.

Duke’s former relationship with Ana may hinder him a bit.


M is for… Motivation

McCullen says he wants “complete control,” and to be the most powerful man on the planet.  He also wants money for research for The Doctor.  He specifically says he wants to “strike fear into the hearts of every man, woman, and child on the planet.  They’ll turn to the person with the most power.”  This is later revealed to not be him, but the President of the United States (who by the end of the film is of course one of McCullen’s men).

Destroying the Eiffel Tower is retaliation for what the French did to “clan McCullen” in 1641.

The Doctor—later Cobra Commander—seems to just want power and to play with his nanomites.

The Joes want to keep the warheads safe, then want them back when they’re stolen, then want to apprehend McCullen.


N is for… Negotiation

There really isn’t much negotiating going on.  Everyone knows what he wants and how to get it.  Even the President says there haven’t been any demands regarding the warheads, which means the villains that have them intend to use them.

Duke does try to negotiate with The Doctor to let Ana go or fix her, but he of course doesn’t agree to that.


O is for… One Liners

Duke, after Ripcord talks about wanting to be a pilot: You want to be up in the air? I’ll buy you a trampoline.


Ripcord: I sent in an application.

Duke: They accept those in crayon?


Ripcord, trying to impress Scarlett: We are tough.  But we’re also sensitive.


Shoutouts to the G.I. Joe cartoon/toys:

Ripcord to Heavy Duty: You have some real life-like hair, and a kung fu grip.

Ripcord: Duke wasn’t born, he was government issued.


Scarlett, about Snake Eyes: He doesn’t speak.

Ripcord: Why?

Breaker: He doesn’t say.

(later it’s explained his silence is because he took a vow of silence when his master was killed)


Scarlett: If you’re gonna shoot at something, kill it.  Otherwise take up knitting.


Ana: How are we gonna get out of here?

Storm Shadow: Follow me.

[He leaps over a 20-foot high railing]

Ana: Like that’s gonna happen.


Ripcord, about Ana: “Baroness”? She really traded up.


Ana: That redhead is really starting to piss me off.


Ripcord, on Storm Shadow: Damn, that ninja’s fast.


Ana, after ordering a woman to get out of her way: Nice shoes.


Ripcord: Dead guys don’t breakdance.


Ana: Everybody’s sorry about something.


Ripcord, after Scarlett explains the math behind finding the arctic fortress: That’s why I missed that class.


Ripcord, in his snowsuit in the arctic: Long way from Miami.


Ripcord, trying to guess the voice command to fire missiles: Fire!  Shoot!  Blast away!  Bust a cap!


Scarlett: Ripcord!

Ripcord: Didn’t I ask you not to yell at me?


Ripcord, as he lands and the secret service surrounds him: Good.  Because I think I’m about to get arrested.  Again.


P is for… Profession

Everyone’s profession seems a bit underdeveloped, strangely enough.  Duke and Ripcord are probably Army, explicitly described as “special ops,” the catch-all designation for “we need some military guys, but don’t need to be specific about what they do.”  Their mission is to protect the caravan of warheads, and Duke refuses to hand the suitcase over to Hawk.

Ripcord is stated to be an expert marksman, second in his battalion, a weapons specialist, and jet qualified.

Duke realizes the Joes can’t be Army because so many of them have accents.

Duke had been recruited to G.I. Joe at some point in the past.

The “Joes” are “the top men and women from the best military units in the world.  The alpha dogs.  When all else fails, we don’t.”  Hawk’s line here reads like the back of an action figure box.


Q is for… Quagmire

Duke gets kidnapped and brought to the North Pole.

The problem is there isn’t enough attachment to him to be too worried about him, and there’s a huge group of people equipped to get him back.  He’ll be fine.


R is for… Reality/Suspension of Disbelief

The entire movie requires suspension of the knowledge of current military technology, so that’s fine.

The first major problem is the fact that Ana and Storm Shadow raid The Pit using drill vehicles and no one realizes it.  Somehow The Pit has no radar, no defenses, no sensors, no cameras or internal surveillance, and no one working or walking around, so no one even knows they’re there until they get to General Hawk’s office.  Storm Shadow does kill a guy with his sword on the way there, which means that guy is either blind and deaf or has no means of radioing the attack to anyone.  General Hawk is able to sound the alarm only because Storm Shadow chooses to wound him rather than kill him.  So basically G.I. Joe has all the top experts, but can’t figure out how to defend its own compound.

From the chase scene, again:

-Scarlett’s motorcycle just doesn’t move right during the Paris chase.  It’s very distracting.

-The Hummer explodes from the outside in.

-Duke and Ripcord just hang out not doing anything while Ana and Storm Shadow get all the way to her husband’s lab.  And Snake Eyes, who wasn’t thrown or hurt, disappears instead of following them.


S is for… Sidekicks

The cast is basically an ensemble, even though Duke is seemingly supposed to be the main character.  The other Joes do more than he does, though.


T is for… Technology

Because the film takes place in the future, the advanced technology is basically a given, but I’ll mention some of it.

The MARS Industries nanomites eat anything from a single tank to an entire city, but the warheads need to be individually deactivated for them to stop.

The nanomites used by The Doctor to control people inhibit the self preservation reflex, so the men feel no pain, fear, regrets, or remorse.  The nano-ed men are called neovipers.

Ana and her crew have sonic weapons, and glasses that can be fully opaque or fully transparent.

Scarlett has a crossbow with a video screen to target bad guys better.

People communicate using lifelike holograms instead of video conferencing.

The Joes have a camouflage suit that takes pictures of whatever is behind the person wearing it and places the images in front of him

The accelerator suits make the wearer faster, stronger, jump higher, and have weaponry on them.

Storm Shadow and Ana escape The Pit with the aid of a jet pack hang glider thing that looks awesome.

Breaker has a tool to stick into dying brains to convert neural impulses to video, to record recent memories.

Scarlett, Breaker, and Snake Eyes have to traverse a hallway where the floor is pressure plated and laser detected, and nothing bigger than a quarter can touch it.  Snake Eyes defeats this technology by walking on his fingertips.


U is for… Unexpected Romance

One of those movies where the “unexpected” part is up to the viewer.

Ripcord flirts with Scarlett right away, even though she brushes him off.  She eventually gives in to the emotions she denies having, and even kisses Ripcord as he prepares to take McCullen’s jet.

Ana saves Duke from having nanomites injected in him, and kisses him.  At the end of the film he says he won’t give up on her, even though the nanomites can’t be removed from her body.  They kiss again.


V is for… Vehicles as Weapons

Ripcord uses a forklift to kill someone.

The Hummer in Paris has a cowcatcher on it, all the better to push people and other cars out of the way.

The Hummer is also scraped against other vehicles to try to dislodge Snake Eyes.

The Hummer drives into a train, which is what finally stops it.


W is for… Winning

All of the Joes fight with McCullen’s people, and the fortress gets infiltrated.  The arctic base is destroyed, Ana is put in recovery, and The Doctor and McCullen—now Cobra Commander and Destro—are in Joe prison.

But, considering the villains aren’t dead (the first movie I’ve reviewed in which this is the case), the President isn’t the President, and there’s a sequel, how much winning truly happened?


X is for… X-Rays, or Why Don’t You See a Doctor?

Everyone seems fine.  I can’t even recall anyone getting a paper cut, though surely there are some bumps and bruises.


Z is for… Zone, the

No one is in any sort of zone.  Everyone is an expert, and teamwork brings everything together.


So that’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.  It’s basically a mess, but for someone who wants something light and explodey to watch, it’s fine.  The ensemble of heroes is nice to see, too, rather than just one or two people trying to take down a villain.

There are, however, many miscellaneous points I’d like to make that bothered me throughout the film.

-The description of “In the not too distant future” seems a little strange coming after a scene that specifically takes place in 1641.  Because the “not too distant future” from 1641 could be 1651.  I know the point is to set the movie a few years into the present day’s future, but they could clarify by having the title read “The present day, plus a few years” or something like that.

-Ripcord is horribly stereotyped.  I’m not a black man, but I’m still offended that Marlon Wayans’ character is reduced to the bumbling fool who can’t get the girl (until he does) and has all the comic relief lines.  If he’s a Joe, why does he need to be the comic relief?  Nothing intelligent comes out of his mouth, and that’s a shame.

-I mentioned this in my introduction, but for a movie that relies heavily on special effects, the CGI establishing shots, notably of the desert, are absolutely terrible.  They really look like the wallpapers that come with Microsoft computers.   This also goes for that poor polar bear in the artic.  They could have found footage of an actual polar bear and superimposed it with the footage of the ship coming from underneath.  Speaking of which, if the ice is ten stories thick, how’d the ship come up from underneath it?

-I couldn’t help but wonder about Joseph Gordon-Levitt acting with the mask, and how difficult it must have been, and then if he gave any tips to Tom Hardy when they were working together on the set of The Dark Knight Rises.  I can’t remember if they had scenes together, but surely Joseph Gordon-Levitt spoke with Tom Hardy about it.  How many people have to act in a big budget action blockbuster while wearing a mask that covers the bottom part of his or her face?

-Scarlett and the blonde corporal don’t wear undershirts beneath their fatigues, yet all the men do.  Ana wears a push-up bra.  Stop sexualizing the women!

-What the heck is Brendan Frasier doing in that cameo?  Super distracting.  All I could think was, “Is that Brendan Frasier?  Why is he here?”

-Duke and Ripcord go through a series of tests in order to prove they are Joe material.  How long do those tests take?  Everything seems to take place in the same day, considering Ana hasn’t stormed The Pit yet.  But surely becoming a Joe takes longer than that!

-When the Joes (sans Snake Eyes and Duke) get arrested, Breaker speaks to the guards in English.  But his native language is French, they’re in France, and the guards are French.  Why wouldn’t he speak French?  Can’t American audiences handle six seconds of subtitles?

-The surface portion of McCullen’s arctic fortress is eerily reminiscent of both the Fortress of Solitude and Hoth.  I don’t know much about arctic architecture and engineering, but surely there’s got to be a design suitable for the arctic landscape that isn’t “huge slabs of ice at irregular angles.”

-Just wanted to point out the convenience that McCullen’s missiles travel at Mach 5, and he fortunately has jets that can travel at that speed and greater, when the Joes don’t.  And oh yeah, Ripcord happens to be an expert pilot.

-The fight scenes in the fortress are reminiscent of Star Wars, especially the Snake Eyes/Storm Shadow fight.  That place might as well be the Death Star.  I seriously expected Snake Eyes to cut off Storm Shadow’s hand (I know that was in Cloud City, but go with it).  The underwater craft having separate wingman areas were reminiscent of R2-D2 being Luke’s wingman, and while I know that’s not a new design, the whole scenario was just very Star Wars-ish.

-That fortress, that Scarlett claims was ingenious because it’s easy to defend, sure falls apart quickly/easily.  Were there no measures to ensure it was structurally sound in case of an attack?  Someone would eventually find the place!

So, hey ho, G.I. Joe.  It has some enjoyable elements, but I don’t think I’ll be reaching for the DVD any time soon, unless I want truly mindless entertainment.  With sonic guns.  Maybe faithful fans of the toys and cartoons have a higher opinion.