“Snake Eyes” is the newest action-packed popcorn film, but any viewer that enters the theater will find that “Snake Eyes” is more than just the standard fare. While many have been burned by the G. I. Joe films that have come before, “Snake Eyes” is a pleasant surprise, not only filled to the brim with amazing action set pieces, but an engaging story as well.
“Snake Eyes” is an origin film for the titular character, starring Henry Golding in the main role. And it is a definite star turn for Golding, who commands the screen with ease and charisma. And Andrew Koji, who is brilliant in the martial arts crime drama “Warrior,” is brilliant here as well, giving a strong performance as Tommy.
Although “Snake Eyes” is an origin for the main character, the film doesn’t make the mistake of neglecting the supporting cast. “Snake Eyes” also serves as an origin for Andrew Koji’s Tommy and clearly establishes the relationship between his character and Golding’s. Andrew Koji and Henry Golding are perfectly cast as foils to each other, from the physicality of their performances to their characters’ motivations. And they have a strong supporting cast with Iko Uwais’ Hard Master, Peter Mensah’s Blind Master, and Haruka Abe’s Akiko. Akiko is a new character to the world of G. I. Joe, and she was amazing as Abe held her own against Koji and Golding.
While some elements of “Snake Eyes” were a bit predictable, it also has so many twists and turns, and surprises that the trailers do not give away. The film is almost perfectly paced, never feeling like there was a lull or a stop to the story. And the story of “Snake Eyes” will have you hooked. Unexpectedly, this film had some fantasy elements to it, but it never felt like too much, out of place, or too goofy.
Yet “Snake Eyes” is not a perfect film. Takehiro Hinta’s Kenta, the main antagonist in the film, felt too cliche at times. The editing in the film was strange as well, such as lingering too long on a moment. And the first ten minutes felt the most rushed as the movie hits the ground running maybe a little too speedily. But once our characters end up in Tokyo, “Snake Eyes” is amazing.
“Snake Eyes” is visually breathtaking, showcasing some fabulous and beautiful settings in a way that feels very respectful to Japan and Asian cinema; if you can, see this film in IMAX or on any premium screen. The action set pieces do not disappoint; they are plentiful and choreographed with care. “Snake Eyes” is a very epic film and establishes a lot of worldbuilding that can be explored even further.
One of the strongest aspects of “Snake Eyes” is its ability to stand on its own. While Samara Weaving’s Scarlett does appear here and the organization, Cobra, looms over the film, “Snake Eyes” differentiates itself from other G. I. Joe films by giving a solid origin story that didn’t feel contrived or rushed, or dependent on a sequel connected to G. I. Joe. Make no mistake, “Snake Eyes” does set up an intriguing sequel, but it doesn’t do so at the expense of crafting a great first film.