A generic leading man makes for an equally generic character in “Snake Eyes,” the origin story of the popular Hasbro G.I. Joe hero. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with Henry Golding, a charmer with a respectable screen presence, it’s that he lacks the powerhouse charisma to carry an action film on his own.
The film tells the backstory of Snake Eyes, a loner who saves the life of an important heir of an ancient Japanese clan. He’s welcomed into their family, where he must learn the ways of the ninja warrior and prove he’s worthy of a new home. Allegiances are tested along the way, with plenty of sword fights and hand-to-hand combat.
The majority of the film is forgettable. The plot is convoluted and dumb, and the violence is kept bloodless to stay well inside those PG-13 parameters. There’s some terrific fight choreography here, but the reliance on using a shaky cam technique in virtually all of the film’s action scenes does a disservice to the hardworking stunt men and women. It’s a shame. The action would be so much more enjoyable if not for all the bouncing around.
So much more could have been created for the character, and despite the film’s commendable aspects (an Asian-heavy cast and an almost perfect use of the movie’s setting), “Snake Eyes” is a dud.