Let’s be real: when a big studio has an intellectual property that is a proven cash cow, we’ve all been conditioned to have low expectations for whatever feature film ultimately comes out. For MGM, G.I. Joe is not exactly the hottest property, and I don’t think anyone was clamoring for the next chapter of the elite team’s saga, which brings us to Robert Schwentke’s Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins. But in slight surprise, if you properly adjust your expectations, you might find enough fun and action to make it worth your while.
Fans familiar with the toy-based franchise will quickly find the story of the mysterious Snake Eyes is new canon. The film starts with a young Snake Eyes on the run with his father (Steven Allerick) in the Oregon forest. Upon reaching a cabin, they are caught by an assassin, Mr. Augustine (Samuel Finzi). Mr. Augustine has the father roll a pair of dice for his life, and the roll turns up snake eyes — surprising exactly no one.
“…before [Kenta] can kill Tommy, Snake Eyes rescues him, and thus a blood debt is established.”
Shift to the present day. We find that the young boy has grown up (Henry Golding) and makes a living by battling in cage fights. When pitted against a much larger fighter, Snake Eyes uses his size and cunning to win, which gains the attention of Yakuza leader Kenta (Takehiro Hira). He recruits Snake Eye by promising to locate his father’s killer. Jump another few months, and Snake Eyes finds himself smuggling automatic weapons in fish.
Here we meet Kenta’s second in command, Tommy (Andrew Koji). In a blink of an eye, we find that Tommy is an undercover member of the Arashikage Clan. Kenta discovers the double-cross, but before he can kill Tommy, Snake Eyes rescues him, and thus a blood debt is established. Tommy wants Snake Eyes to go through the three warrior challenges and become a full-fledged clan member of the Arashikage. But Snake Eyes is not precisely who he claims to be. It’s here that the story shifts to a more fantasy/spirituality direction.
"…a slightly above average American homage to the martial arts genre."