In the early-to-mid 1980s toy companies realised that to help boost sales of their products it made commercial sense to create cartoons as a way of advertising to children. This lead to a boom in cartoons such as Transformers, He-Man and Thundercats on television. In recent years, Hasbro, one of the biggest toy companies in the world have begun to produce feature films at cinemas as a way of further increasing their brand presence. The globally successful Transformers in 2007 made way for an adaptation of one of Hasbro’s most successful toy lines, the G.I. Joe’s.
US army soldiers Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripchord (Marlon Wayans) are transporting a new warhead full of nanotechnology created by James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) when their platoon is attacked. Keeping hold of the warheads they are saved by members of a secret organisation known as G.I. Joe and are invited by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid) to join them. While trying to discover who attacked them, the path leads them back to McCullen who is working with a mysterious masked man known as The Doctor (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and are plotting to take over the world under the guise of an organisation called Cobra.
The main problem with films that are so aggressively aimed at marketing toys to children is that they lack the flexibility to allow the narrative to form in an organic way. Everything has to geared solely for the young-to-teenage boy market and there seems to be a creeping sense that as long as there is explosions and cool guns then the film, and by virtue, the toys, will sell. Hence we have a non-sensical plot with caricatured villains running around and spouting terrible dialogue. The fact that they cast Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the maniacal doctor instead of one of the heroic Joe’s makes no sense, and even less so when they cover his face, forcing him to rely on overblown physical movements to remind you that he is evil.
Concentrating on ludicrous action scenes, such as the chase through Paris with the mechanical suits, G.I. Joe fails to deliver in terms of character and pacing. This leaves the downtime between action as a real drag in proceedings. There are glimpses of good interplay between the charismatic Tatum and various other members of the team, but these are so few and far between that they barely make a dent in the drudge of normal conversation.