There are several brief moments in Snake Eyes where the audience is able to see the incredible talents of stunt coordinator Kenji Tanigaki. Tanigaki has an ability to bring a fantastical element to even the simplest of fight sequences, perhaps best demonstrated in the Rurouni Kenshin series. His work in this G.I. Joe origin story is no exception to his work ethic.
Unfortunately, the effort and passion of the entire stunt team is marred by poor editing decisions and camerawork that refuses to stay still, even for a moment. There are numerous points in the film where a dangerous duel is about to begin, only to cut to Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) gallivanting away from the action.
Robert Schwentke’s feature is yet another example of Hollywood’s major studios’ inability to showcase well-executed action sequences. Hollywood filmmakers need to understand that the craft is the star of any martial arts flick. John Wick wasn’t initially successful solely because of Keanu Reeves, it was due to the impeccable fight choreography.
Even putting aside the issues with the action scenes (which admittedly are a huge part of the feature), Snake Eyes isn’t a good film. There’s a desire to explain every aspect of the popular character, even though one of the major draws to Snake Eyes is his air of mystery. The recurring element of trying to explain how Snake Eyes got his title were some of the most laughable usages of an origin story for dramatic effect since the Martha moment in Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Overall, Snake Eyes, after two solid G.I. Joe flicks, is a bad roll of the dice. Hopefully the sequel that is set up in this film improves upon the original, though that isn’t a particularly tall order.
The Silver Lining
There is a sequence in the second act where Snake Eyes, Tommy (Andrew Koji) and Akiko (Haruka Abe) are up against the baddies in the neon cityscape of Tokyo. It’s a scene that shows off a lot of style and is one of the only moments that lets the fight choreography shine.
Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is available now at a movie theater near you!