GENRE: Yet Another Toy Franchise Adaptation as a super-secret elite army squadron kicks ass all over the world (quite literally).
PITCH: After a team of soldiers is ambushed during delivery of NATO-funded nano-technology weapons sold by a multinational arms-dealing corporation, a global pursuit ensues to recover the precious robo microbes.
MONEY SHOTS: The microscopic robots can be programmed to eat anything on command, and at one point chew through the insides of the Eiffel Tower, toppling it over in a spectacularly obvious CGI destruction scene. (Question: Did Hollywood get so tired of wrecking American cities that we’ve now seen two blockbusters this season that rake through the streets of Paris?) Several battle scenes are rich in crudish CGI, with the last, long sequence taking place under water with some impressive maneuvers.
GOT YER BAILOUT RIGHT HERE: A Hummer (made by General Motors) rumbles through Paris, crashing against every compact two-door car (including some Smart cars) in its way.
AWESOMELY BAD LINES: “Knowing is half the battle,” General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) preaches to his soldiers. “My father taught me how to win,” a shaken Scarlett (Rachel Nichols) tells Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) after losing a fight. “Don’t make me shoot a woman,”
Heavy Duty (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) warns as they confront Ana (Sienna Miller) for the first time. “We’re tough, but we’re also sensitive,” says Wayans as Ripcord, who has several corny moments and lines.
REDKEN FEMME FATALES: Ana gets feisty as Scarlett puts on a fight: “That redhead is really starting to piss me off.” Later on, she orders another woman to “get out!” of the elevator, but makes sure to offer her a compliment: “Nice shoes.”
TRUE-THAT LINE: “Everyone gets photographed at some point,” says one of the G.I. Joe minions as he scans a photograph of Ana against a databank of photographs captured from surveillance cameras, public cameras, and more.
BODY COUNT: Lots of stabbing and actual graphic fatalities, but little blood. A couple of heads get blown up, and one guy’s face gets planted with a red-hot cast-iron mask as you watch. Nanobites eat a bad guy from the insides, and we get to see his face slowly turn into a zombie-like corpse.
FLESH FACTOR: Ana flashes a lot of cleavage, even during a scene at the North Pole where you figure it's quite cold. Scarlett jogs on a treadmill in a sports bra.
HELLO, CAPTAIN OBVIOUS: A futuristic airship shoots down missiles during the opening battle scene, and one of the pilot screams, “He shot ‘em out of the air!” One of the “Joes,” as they are regularly referred to throughout the film, remarks at the sight of the North Pole on a screen: “That is a lot of ice.”
GEEK PEEVE: A soldier plugs a USB thumb drive into a computer, which then prompts a Norton Anti-Virus pop-up screen to scan it for malicious code. Never mind that he has five minutes to get out of the building before the air strike (hint).
PRODUCT PLACEMENT: As with Michael Bay’s Transformers series, the movie is essentially a commercial for the merchandise, but a few brand names make cameos. A Cisco Systems communications interface is seen, as is the grill of a Bentley sedan. The aforementioned Norton Anti-Virus scan and Double Bubble gum figure prominently in a couple of key scenes. Several European car brands are evident (Peugeot, Opel, Smart) during the Hummer scene.
BOTTOM LINE: There is a running theme of science vs. emotion, where both good guys and bad guys thirst for knowledge but ultimately get won over by capricious impulses. Overall, that makes for a weak subplot. Set against the backdrop of all the glittery explosions and mayhem, the movie doesn’t take itself too seriously, and the action is actually entertaining at various points. But be warned, there will be a sequel.