Go [see] Joe!
Just caught G.I. Joe. Great summer flick. (I know I’m a week late, but I’m a lawyer–I’ve got stuff to do). Not quite Star Trek-level, but it gives Transformers a run for second place in blockbuster heart pounding manventure of the summer. Just like Transformers, (and I’m quoting myself here), G.I. Joe wil:
rip through your rib cage, grab your inner caveman and drag your latté drinking, blog reading, aeron chair sitting, metaphor mixing ass through  minutes of heart pounding, libido stirring, pride swelling man-venture. If you’re looking for subtlety, read Jane Austen.
The thing I appreciated most about G.I. Joe, after the tight leather bustiers and the phallic weaponry, is the villains.
The thing I appreciated most about G.I. Joe, after the tight leather bustiers and the phallic weaponry, is the villains. You have Christopher Eccleston’s Scottish arms dealer. You have “The Doctor,” played by Joseph Gordon-Levitt (3rd Rock from the Sun), who is a sociopath. And finally Sienna Miller’s Ana Lewis/Baroness. Now these characters don’t really have much of a back story in G.I. Joe lore. Back when the cartoon series was created, bad guys were just bad. This was the 80′s, we had a President who knew evil when he saw it and called it by its name. This time, it was up to Hollywood (God help us) to give them their motivation.
I would expect Hollywood to create a Destro whose father never hugged him and whose mother never breastfed him; a Cobra Commander who was an orphan raised by a greedy corporate executive as part of a social experiment gone awry. I was half expecting a live action episode of Robot Chicken, with Destro sobbing into Cobra Commander’s arms “I couldn’t make the swim team daddy!” [Pounds his metal fists.] “Use your words, Dethththtro. Uththe your wordth. Let it out.” [Gentle rocking, rolls eyes, looks at watch.]
[Spoiler warning] Surprisingly, G.I. Joe finds a way to overcome Hollywood stereotypes. McCullen/Destro’s motivation is simple and unencumbered by Jungian psychobabble. He’s a greedy businessman who wants revenge for wrongs against his clan. True, Hollywood thinks all businessmen are greedy, but McCullen is an arms dealer, and I think even arms dealers would say they have a point there. As to being evil, greed is a sin, a deadly one at that, so Destro is sorted. The Doctor/Cobra Commander is a sociopath driven insane by his lust for scientific achievement. What is wonderful (if that’s the right word for it) about his story, is that he turns evil before his disfiguring accident. He would be morally redeemable (and therefore more typical of a Hollywood villain) if it was his disfigurement that lead to his evil.
I would expect Hollywood to create a Destro whose father never hugged him and whose mother never breastfed him.
But much of the story centers on Duke and Ana and their mutual history. Based on the story arc, the Baroness’s back story seems painfully clear, and her real back story is therefore all the more of a–for lack of a better phrase–pleasant surprise. We are told that Duke and Ana are engaged and Duke promises to protect Ana’s brother Rex as they both deploy in combat. Rex is killed and Ana and Duke split up as Duke cannot face his broken promise. We are lead to believe then that Ana is not evil but just misunderstood. Her grief overwhelmed her, and that’s why she was willing to kill millions of people. Well, as it turned out, Cobra Commander was brainwashing her. Fantastic twist that turned an action movie into a love story.