Cert – 12, Run-time – 2 hours 2 minutes, Director – Robert Schwentke
Having sought to find his father’s killer for many years tough-fighting Snake Eyes (Henry Golding) finds himself brought into a potentially deadly ninja training scheme after saving the life of clan heir Tommy (Andrew Koji).
While the events of Snake Eyes’ third act appear to happen over a somewhat short amount of time the sky appears to indict the rapid passing of day, night, morning, evening, etc. It’s something that happens frequently throughout the film, the changing amount of light from scene to scene, as events are seemingly meant to take place so close to each other. It’s not exactly a distracting element, more one of the few things that you’re able to focus on during the chaotic action scenes. The camera moves with almost as great a speed as the editing meaning that it’s hard to actually focus on and keep track of what’s going on in the moment. Creating a sense of disconnect with the viewer as they become disengaged with what is going on in the film.
There are elements of the plot that feel almost just as confusing as we see Henry Golding’s Snake Eyes caught between good and evil. After saving the life of Tommy (Andrew Koji), the heir to a proud Japanese clan, he finds himself recruited to take part in strict ninja warrior training, having to take part in three potentially deadly trials to prove himself as more than just a tough fighter. However, he has other intentions. With links to the yakuza, Snake Eyes finds himself trying to steal a precious jewel held by the Arashikage clan, The Jewel Of The Sun, for leader Kenta (Takehiro Hira). All while caught between his own personal mission of wanting to track down and kill the man who killed his father many years before. It’s a busy film and there’s seemingly a lot to get through, at least in terms of all the characters that fill up the just over two hour run-time, yet the plot still manages to feel somewhat thin.
By the time that the third act arrives, and Samara Weaving’s Scarlett – whose entire performance can be seen in the trailer for the film – and Úrsula Corberó’s Baroness get close to something to do for themselves, which is still almost nothing. They certainly feel like the two most pushed aside figures, like a number of others simply forgotten about for extended periods of time. Many actors feel completely wasted in the film with very little screen-time, only being present to build-up to sequels and further films in the G.I. Joe movie universe. The majority of the film’s final stages is spent simply teasing what might come (but perhaps may not arrive) instead of focusing on this first origin story – which already holds the feeling of being two or three different stories at once, jumping back and forth between Snake Eyes’ multiple affiliations- as a whole.
While Snake Eyes certainly fulfils the idea of an origin story, it’s one for multiple characters. Building them up for more in the future instead of focusing on telling one contained story with the possibility to lead to more later instead of a nearly ‘part 1’ style affair. A large proportion of the run-time feels like build-up to the third act. Simply seeing Golding’s character go through various trials and divisions with story thrown in to alternate scenes. All before a not-so-busy third act that also has an in and out feel, unfortunately not a satisfying one. Instead Snake Eyes leaves you with little response due to the disconnect that you’ve had throughout it. While you might eventually be able to keep track of it and all the different characters it’s still hard to concentrate on the action due to the constantly moving nature of the camera and editing that makes them, almost like the story, difficult to focus on.
Snake Eyes falters from being a very busy film, both in terms of story and action. Wasting characters to build up to future sequels instead of fleshing out this film.