Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins (PG13)
Starring Henry Golding, Andrew Koji, Iko Uwais, Haruka Abe
Directed by Robert Schwentke
Crazy Rich Asians breakout Henry Golding takes a crack at action in this risible spin-off/prequel/reboot of the dormant G.I. Joe franchise about the titular lone wolf’s early days prior to becoming a free-world defender. As a non-G.I. Joe fan, I approached Snake Eyes — directed by Robert Schwentke (R.I.P.D, The Divergent Series: Insurgent) — as a martial arts flick, and boy, what a colossal disappointment this is. The British-Malaysian actor said countless times that he trained his butt off on the swordplay but the hard work, sadly, rarely pays off onscreen. The Japan-set movie is high on stunts but low on actual thrills — substandard John Wick brawls that relied on over-editing and shaky camera work. So much so that it’s difficult to tell whether it’s Golding or his stunt double in some scenes — it’s all a blur. (Good luck keeping track of his inconsistent American accent because the director sure didn’t.) As dashing as Golding is, he’s painfully miscast here: he simply lacks the badass presence to elevate his character in what’s essentially a joyless Yakuza-vs-ninja power struggle that leans heavily on cultural and ethnic stereotypes (the three credited writers are white). More interesting is Andrew Koji, the star of the Bruce Lee-inspired Cinemax series Warrior, who injects pathos into his limited role as Snake Eyes’ brother-in-arms and future nemesis Storm Shadow. They should’ve focused the origin story on him instead. (2 /5 stars)
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