Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Recap: "G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra" Part 2: Batteries Not Included

And now it's July 5th. The party's over.

Like going back to work at the office the day after your 21st birthday, America has wrapped up the festivities as both it and the rest of the world try to sift through the tricky, often sticky, mess that is the current state of global affairs.

I mean, what, North Korea's got missiles and heartburn meds might lead to death? Yeesh.

That's why I'm glad to be returning to a fictional world where heroes and villains are clearly defined, Americans all have square jaws, and all the world's problems can be solved by a small band of heroes!

Which actually describes a lot of the things I cover, actually.
Back with the Joes, they're running the Baroness's face through an "infinity scan," which, if you pay attention to the computer monitor, means "comparing it to the same few pictures over and over." Ripcord and Duke recognize her, but stay quiet. After all, this is their bargaining chip.

General Hawk's Assistant: "We have access to any photograph on any server, anywhere in the world."

Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this rather illegal? This is essentially a global Patriot Act on steroids. "Any server"? Does that include private servers that you'd normally need a warrant to access?

Breaker: "Yep. Everyone gets photographed in some way at some time. Football game, ATM machine, airport..."

This scene just seems like propaganda for mass surveillance.

"Go ahead and less us access your personal data! It's cool, we're the good guys! You're not hiding anything, are you? Then you have nothing to lose!"

And I'm going to stop that line of criticism now before real-life politics start poking their heads in. I just want to talk about G.I. Joe.

General Hawk gets orders from NATO that make him the official custodian of the warheads, so it looks like it's time for Duke and Ripcord to go. Except that Duke knows who the Baroness is. And in exchange for that information, he wants to accept the invitation he apparently got four years previously.

To prove that he knows who she is, Duke whips out a picture of himself and some lady named Ana Lewis with different hair color than the Baroness and an obscured face.

Oh, yeah, that's clearly the same woman.
Meanwhile, over in France, the Baroness arrives home to her husband, the Baron. Apparently, he works at some kind of particle accelerator, and work has been going well. Her husband can't help but wonder where she spends all her time, but she's not going to get any less mysterious any time soon. She shoos her husband downstairs as she "freshens up," which is code for "meets with Storm Shadow."

Storm Shadow: "McCullen gave me orders to kill the Baron if he so much as touched you."
Baroness: "Well, he's my husband. Of course he touches me. And besides, his work at the lab goes much better after we've touched."

And touching is half the battle!

They have one of those villain confrontations where they each catch each other's weapons before getting back to business.

It's like the bad guy version of a handshake, really.
Storm Shadow: "You were my best student."

Which... is why she rarely uses any ninja skills in this movie?

Storm Shadow and the Baroness are to to retrieve the warheads at dawn. As Storm Shadow leaves, the Baroness has a flashback to four years previously, a time when she was simply Ana, the proud girlfriend of Duke Hauser. She and Duke are having a nice time at a party for the troops.

Duke: "Okay, so, I've been wanting to do this before we deploy."

And he whips out a wedding ring, which would be hard to give to her from a battlefield.

Duke: "So what do you say?"
???: "Say yes, you idiot. He's a real American hero."

Actually, now that I think about it, since G.I. Joe was introduced in the 60s, I don't think Cap actually gets any of these references.
This is Ana's brother, Rex Lewis (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), who gets deployed with Duke in only a few hours. Ana is reluctant to say goodbye to her boyfriend and her brother (whom Duke is pulling away from a lab to do some military science on this mission), but she's not upset enough to say no to the ring.

Ana: "On one condition. You have to promise me that you will not let my genius, egghead brother get hurt. He's the only family I've got left."

So... no clarification on that? Did all your grandparents, aunts, uncles, et cetera get shot in an alleyway? Were you disowned for being in this movie? Did you sell their organs to pay off some debts?

Duke promises, which is Ripcord's cue to walk into the movie, discover the wedding ring, and do the sort of thing that films usually hire Marlon Wayans to do: Comic relief.

Ripcord: "Look at you guys, you're like the little white couple on the wedding cake!"

See above.

But Ripcord declares the engagement unofficial until he grills her on whether or not she truly loves "my boy."

Ana: "Always. And forever."

"Near and far, closer together. Everywhere, I will be with you. Every sin, I will do for you."
Back in the present not-too-distant future, Heavy Duty is a little peeved that Duke and Ripcord basically blackmailed their way onto the team. But either way, he's going to train them.

Heavy Duty: "Joe style."

And so, he shows them the Delta-6 Accelerator Suits, which look like rejected Starktech. And they basically are Iron Man armors without repulsors, to the point that people often accuse this movie of blatantly ripping off Iron Man. But a little research shows that these suits are taken from G.I. Joe: Sigma 6, meaning that this film is technically not ripping off Iron Man. It's definitely trying very hard to imitate it, though.

The boots clamping together with little spinny parts is definitely Iron Man-inspired.
But instead of using JARVIS or FRIDAY, the suits are mind-controlled. They have plenty of other features, but it basically boils down to bullets.

Heavy Duty: "Any questions?"

I'm just wondering why these suits won't be used in the finale, what with how useful they are.

Training continues to the tune of "Bang a Gong (Get it On)" as Brendan Fraser comes in as an original character created specifically for the film, Sergeant Stone, to help with the training. Apparently, Fraser asked for a cameo.

Heh. Remember when Brendan Fraser was believable as an action hero? It was a different time.
And yes, I am aware that "Stone" is a classic Joe, but according to my research, not only was he not a sergeant, he bears no similarities to Fraser's character other than the name. All things considered, Sgt. Stone looks like Flint, but not only does Flint show up in the sequel as a different person, that would make this guy's name "Flint Stone."

"Yabba dabba Joe!"
Anyway, training sequence. There's a holographic firing range where Ripcord puts the vaguely-alarming moves on Scarlett...

Ripcord: "Just so you know, when I get a target in my sights... I take it down."

So... are you threatening her with murder or are you telling her that you don't care about consent? This pick up line seems equally like a threat.

There's some hand-to-hand with Snake Eyes, some underwater Superman 64 ring navigation, and Ripcord keeps trying to unsuccessfully flirt with Scarlett, despite the fact that she clearly turns him down.

Scarlett: "Just so you know, some targets are harder to hit than others."

I mean, seriously, Ripcord's entire motivation in this scene is to impress Scarlett, and he's doing a terrible job at it.

Scarlett: "The record is all 20 killed."
Ripcord: "Who did that? Let me guess. Snake Eyes?"
Scarlett: "No. Me."

If she used her auto-aim crossbow, then I don't think that should count.

But the flirting carries over the the scene after the training montage, where Ripcord's supposed to be spotting Duke as he benchpresses.

Ripcord: "Hey, man, Breaker told me that Scarlett graduated college at 12 years old. She's like some freaky little deadly genius."

So he walks over and gets on the treadmill next to hers, despite the fact that she starts reading a book just to have an excuse to ignore him.

Ripcord: "Look, I think you and me got off on the wrong foot. See, I'm attracted you you. And you, you're attracted to me."

Dude. Every single interaction she's had with you has been berating you or barely tolerating your presence. If you don't take the hint soon, you're going to have to watch the Joes' film on sexual harassment in the workplace.

"Every person has the right to work in an environment free from discrimination and harassment!"
"Thanks, Flint! Now we know!"
"And knowing is half the battle!"
Ripcord: "What I'm trying to say is..."
"We're attracted to each other."
Ripcord: "Thank you!"
Scarlett: "That's what you're saying. It's not what I'm saying."

Well, she could be saying that this is harassment and goes against every military rule regarding fraternization. But she doesn't. Instead, she reveals something about her backstory.

She's a Vulcan.

Scarlett: "Attraction is an emotion. Emotions are not based in science."

Yes they are. Ask any biochemist. I believe the phrase you were aiming for is "Emotions are not based in logic," Spock.

Scarlett: "And if you can't quantify or prove that something exists, well...."

Emotions exist. This is not a thing that is up for debate.

Scarlett: "In my mind it doesn't."

Yeah. She's a Vulcan. Which, to be fair, is a bold choice for the character.

But this is when General Hawk comes in to announce the results.

General Hawk: "Duke, you scored in the top half percent of all people we've ever tested."

"Thank you, sir."
"I'm referring to the drug tests, Duke. What the hell have you been taking?"
General Hawk: "Rip, if we average your scores with Duke's, you pass, too."

And so, the main characters have provisionally joined G.I. Joe, making them some of the only Real American Heroes on the team.

Nighttime falls across the sand of Egypt. The Pit's surveillance picks up a lone man and his camel walking across the desert...

Okay, no, how can they tell his weight when he's wearing long, flowing robes?
He could have a pot belly for all they know. well as a few mysterious tremors.

Yeah, I'd say "Tremors" comes to mind here.
MARS Molepods emerge into the base interior, which doesn't set off any alarms or anything, meaning that the G.I. Joe base is actually less secure than the vault vault in Ocean's Eleven. In fact, the only person actively patrolling died when a Molepod burst out of the wall.

When the bad guys get out, Storm Shadow jams his sword behind a pillar, and another random Joe falls out, dead. Which is supposed to look cool...

But what the heck was that guy doing standing behind a pillar facing the wall?
But this is when Zartan decides to show he's a master of disguise by stealing the dead Joe's clothes and whistling his little tune.

"Think I might go say hi to Brendan Fraser. I haven't seen him since The Mummy Returns."
Over in General Hawk's office, his assistant has something for him to sign. I haven't mentioned it, but General Hawk's assistant throughout the film is a minor G.I. Joe character named Cover Girl, appropriately played by a real-life model named Karolina Kurkova.

Fun Fact: Karolina Kurkova has no navel. To meet people's expectations and avoid accusations of shoddy photoshopping, they will often photoshop in a navel to meet people's expectations.

Zartan, it seems, has chosen his own way of adding a navel.
Welp. Hope you weren't a fan of Cover Girl, because she is the only named Joe to die. In fact, she could quite possibly be the only named character to die, given the ambiguity of certain events. 

Anyway, General Hawk gets impaled and knocked out by Storm Shadow, who apparently reacts in disgust to Cover Girl's murder.

Zartan: "Oh. That's right. You don't kill women."
Storm Shadow: "For you, Zartan, I'd make an exception."

What's with this movie's utter fascination with not killing women? Heavy Duty said "Don't make me shoot a woman," and Storm Shadow has some kind of code against it. Honestly, were I a woman, I'd find this offensive, since the implication seems to be that women are helpless, innocent bystanders even when they're trained combatants.

The Baroness comes in to steal the warheads using General Hawk's retina scan, and the General manages to set off the alarm when the villains try to leave. The Joes assemble as the bad guys prepare to leave, and the big action scene begins as Heavy Duty attacks the intruders. And you can guess what happens next. Explosions, guns, CGI, the works.

Storm Shadow tries to escape with a jetpack, which is when Duke comes in to aim his weapon at the two villains. The Baroness taunts Duke over the fact that he can't bring himself to shoot her, only for the confrontation to end when Ripcord impales an enemy goon with a forklift.

Forget the standard MST3K "He tried to kill me with a forklift" reference.
Ripcord just straight up killed this guy with a forklift. No "trying" about it.
More guns, more kabooms, and a fight between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow triggers a flashback of the two fighting as children.

Storm Shadow: "Hello, brother."

Elsewhere, a goon from earlier tries to get revenge on Heavy Duty.

Heavy Duty won't shoot a woman, but he will set a man on fire if he has to.
Scarlett and the Baroness have the obligatory girl-on-girl fight, and Scarlett decides to whip out the invisibility suit from earlier.

"Can't choke me if you can't see me!"
"I'm already choking you."
Long story short, the bad guys escape with the warheads. Storm Shadow and the Baroness use a jetpack to get away, while Zartan puts on robes and an eyepatch.

An eyepatch. Truly, Zartan is the master of joke shop disguises.
And so, we cut to D.C., where President The-Governor-From-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean (Jonathan Pryce) gets informed that terrorists have stolen four nanomite warheads, but they haven't made any demands. His aides assume the terrorists don't have any goals, but the President knows that it means they intend to use them, not just make demands with them.

Back at base, General Hawk is in stable condition while Ripcord goes to check up on a mopey Scarlett.

Scarlett: "I didn't want anyone to see me like this."
Ripcord: "Why?"

Because Vulcans are taught from a young age to suppress all emotion.

Scarlett: "All the men we lost, General Hawk wounded, my neck just doesn't seem important."

"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. Or the one."
But Ripcord talks some sense into her, saying that she nearly died, which is a perfectly fine reason to be a bit rattled.

Ripcord: "You get knocked down, you get back up."

They're never gonna keep you down.

Ripcord makes fun of her Vulcan ways, which gets a smile out of her. He seems to be growing on her. Like, you know, fungus.

Duke surveys the wreckage of the base until he comes across Snake Eyes. He pats the ninja on the shoulder, apparently activating his flashback switch. You know what? I'll just summarize this one.  There's a little white boy in Japan stealing bread from a dojo. Another kid finds him and tries to kill him for starving. The old, wise master shows up and takes the little street urchin in. The white kid is a young Snake Eyes, and the little ninja is a young Storm Shadow.

Over with the baddies, McCullen is showing off his ancestor's mask.

McCullen: "He was caught selling arms to both sides. The French forced him to wear it for the rest of his life."

"And since it was glowing hot when they pressed it against his skull, he didn't wear it for very long."
McCullen: "They called him 'Destro, Destroyer of Nations.'"

"Ironically, of course, since he failed to destroy any nations."
Storm Shadow: "So why do you keep it?"
"So that I never forget the most important rule in dealing arms."
Baroness: "Let me guess. Never sell to both sides?"
McCullen: "Never get caught selling to both sides."

So to get revenge on the French, they'll be taking the warheads to Paris to be weaponized and tested.

McCullen: "I have a target in mind. One the French will never forget, as I've never forgotten what they did to Clan McCullen."

Not the Arc du Triomphe!

Elsewhere in the arctic base playset, Zartan prepares to get nanomite-induced shapeshifting powers to use to replace... somebody. But he destroys the chip that would have brainwashed him during the process, which only seems fair. He leans back in his seat like he was about to get a tooth pulled, and... actually, that seems fitting, considering the mind-control chip. The resident evil brainwasher from the source material, Dr. Mindbender (who "the Doctor" here seems to be based on), used to be a dentist. No, really, a dentist. And not an evil one like in Little Shop of Horrors. He was just a kindly dentist who tried to develop a brainwave machine that would work better than standard dental painkillers, yadda yadda yadda, he turned evil and started brainwashing people.

...You know, it just occurred to me that some of these characters might have silly backstories.

The injection seems to work, so the Doctor puts Zartan's new powers through some tests while the Joes try to figure out how the bad guys found them. Ripcord manages to suddenly crack this whole thing wide open when he suggests that McCullen might have reactivated the tracking beacon when he had them open the weapons case, which leads the rest of Team Alpha to figure out the entire evil scheme up to this point entirely through leaps of logic.
  1. Get NATO funding.
  2. Make weapons with the promise of giving them to NATO.
  3. Steal them back.
As the rest of Team Alpha wonders what the next step is, Breaker comes in with the announcement that they've identified Ana. She's now Baroness Ana de Cobray, wife of Daniel de Cobray, a French scientist. The guy's name is basically Dan Cobra, which is the sort of name you'd expect to see attached to a 40-something year old guy trying to find work as a bodyguard or a bounty hunter. With, like, a mullet and a soul patch. But Daniel de Cobray works at a particle accelerator, which apparently makes him the prime suspect for the guy who's going to arm the warheads.

So now they know exactly where to go: France. They fly out right away, and Channing Tatum seems to flash back to Stop-Loss to kill some time. Bombs, bullets, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

"Knock knock!"
"Who's there?"
Rex's mission is to head inside a bunker and see what kind of evil science they're running. But while he's in there, an airstrike comes along earlier than expected to take the bunker out. The funeral takes place in the rain, just like all film funerals. Duke watches from afar, in leather, on a bike, in the rain.

Unaware that he had not actually been cast as Ghost Rider. Or the Joe also named Ghostrider.
With the flashback over, we cut to de Cobray Labs, where the bad guys infiltrate the premises thanks to Storm Shadow's insta-kill ninja stars. They find Dr. de Cobray in the particle accelerator itself and whip out the warheads for him.

Dr. de Cobray: "What are these things?"

Lucky for him, the arming protocols are in the case. So... why does it take a particle accelerator to activate these warheads?

The Baroness threatens to kill everybody there unless her husband turns them on, and he obliges while Iron Man and War Machine, I mean, Duke and Ripcord suit up. Duke takes out his last piece of gum, which Breaker takes from him in a reference to his gum-chewing quirk from the cartoon.

Lasers and science and stuff activate and arm the warheads, and I'm sure it's very technical.

Yep. Science sure seems to be happening.
The Baroness gives her husband a kiss, which is Storm Shadow's cue to kill him for touching her, using his replica Assassin's Creed hidden blade.

The bad guys exit the building as the good guys arrive in their van, beginning the action chase through the Paris streets. After Scarlett decides to steal a motorcycle, rather than use her own Accelerator Suit, the bad guys speed up to the Arc du Triomphe... and pass it. According to Breaker, their true target is the Eiffel Tower.

Yadda yadda yadda, exciting chase scene, explosion, CGI, ninjas, and Duke and Ripcord dodge some missiles in a blatant ripoff of that slo-mo bit at the climax of the first Transformers film. You know the one. Things continue to escalate as Snake Eyes mysteriously disappears from the chase.

Baroness: "He gave up."
Storm Shadow: "He never gives up."

"He's always there, fighting for freedom over land and air."
Apparently, Snake Eyes realized that the villains' vehicle was going to hit a bullet train. Somehow, they survive and manage to keep going on foot to reach their target with one of the armed warheads.  Ripcord and Duke follow them into a plaza, knocking away some guy with balloons, ruining somebody's birthday, probably. The Baroness only pauses from firing her gun to compliment a bystander.

Baroness: "Nice shoes."


More fighting, more chasing....

Ripcord: "Damn, that ninja's fast!"

Whoa. Try not to whip out the N-word like that, Ripcord. This is a family movie. You can impale all the people you want, but you'd better watch that mouth.

Long story short, the Joes don't activate the Baroness's kill switch until the warhead demolishes the Eiffel Tower, no doubt killing a few hundred. There was a line earlier about evacuating the tower, but it's not going to happen quickly no matter what you do. Even if they got most of the people out, you still have to deal with all the people around the tower taking pictures. Not to mention all the people speeding about in cars shortly before the nanomites make them disappear.

Hmm, this shot looks familiar.... Have I seen something like it anywhere?
No, no, don't help me, Tony, I'll figure it out....
With the Eiffel Tower destroyed, the bad guys technically win and make their getaway with Duke as their prisoner while the rest of the Joes try and salvage the mission. They find one of the dead goons, and Breaker gets out some metal spikes to...

Oh sweet freakin' Hell, Michigan, what?
That is a man's head.

Breaker: "The brain survives a couple of minutes after death."

That... is a man's... head.

Scarlett: "We can retrieve the electrical impulses from his most recent memories and convert them into images."

That...  is a man's...  head.

So... this man is dead... but his brain still works? Oh, God, can he actually feel what you're doing? Is he aware? And do dead people automatically lose their rights to privacy?


Okay, I just looked that question up and found some fascinating articles online as to whether or not the Fourth and Ninth Amendments apply to the deceased, and whether or not the Freedom of Information Act applies.

But either way, Breaker is desecrating a corpse. He gets some images, but the guy starts rapidly decaying thanks to nanomites while McCullen smugly watches Breaker panic through a hidden camera on his dead minion.

But it was all an act. Breaker knew they were being watched, so he pretended that he got nothing useful. Luckily for him, the camera turned off when the Neo-Viper died. Unluckily, Breaker didn't get much.

Ripcord: "Come on, Frenchie, I thought you said you was the best at this."
Breaker: "I am the best at this!"

"And I am not 'Frenchie!' I am 'Moroccie.'"
But the Joes are soon surrounded by French police and get hauled off to prison for this mess as Snake Eyes runs off. So the U.S. President makes a call or two and gets them released. Unfortunately, the trade-off, delivered by a wheelchair-bound General Hawk, is that the Joes are never allowed to come back to France. Ever.

Breaker: "What do you mean by never? Like, never never ever?"

On top of that, each Joe is to report back to the Pit so they can return to their respective countries of origin.

Coming up in Part 3! All the good toys fight the bad toys with their wonderful toys.

1 comment:

  1. Newt, you don't get it. Due to sexual dimorphism, men on average are bigger and stronger then women. Thus, if a man kills a woman, he a a chance of seriously injuring her! And then what?

    Man On Fire just has to walk it off, or get his man card revoked.

    -Faceless Enigma