G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Rated PG-13. Running time: 1 hour 58 min. Reviewed by rev. Markus Watson

The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt
no shame.
Genesis 2:25

Now Cain said to his brother Abel, “Let’s go out to the field.” While they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother Abel and killed him. Then the LORD said to Cain, “Where is your brother Abel?” “I don’t know,” he replied. “Am I my brother’s keeper?” Genesis 4:8-9

In everything he did [David] had great success, because the LORD was with him. When Saul saw how successful he was, he was afraid of him.
1 Samuel 18:14-15

Ready for action!

2009 Paramount Pictures

With both Transformers 2 and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra coming out in the same summer, 2009 is turning out to be a year of nostalgia for those of us who grew up in the 1980’s. And as unprofound as these movies are, I must admit that it is fun to revisit that decade.

G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra begins (with expected sequels, no doubt) the story of the battle between G.I. Joe, a secret international military organization made up of the world’s best, and Cobra, a terrorist organization bent on world domination.

In this movie, however, the Cobra organization is still a mere gleam in the eye of a mad scientist whom we discover was once a young science officer named Rex (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), friend to Duke (Channing Tatum) and brother to Ana, who has since become the evil Baroness (Sienna Miller). The lead villain for most of this film is a weapons manufacturer named McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) whose latest creation involves nano-technology capable of literally eating through anything and everything that gets in its way. When McCullen unleashes his weapon on the Eiffel Tower to demonstrate his power, the war is on between McCullen and G.I. Joe.

On a deeper level (and when I say “deeper,” I mean slightly less shallow), G.I. Joe is about broken relationships. Duke, it turns out, was once engaged to be married to Ana (now the Baroness) and had been charged by Ana to protect her brother, Rex (who becomes Cobra Commander by the end of the movie). When Rex was apparently killed by friendly fire, Duke felt responsible and couldn’t return to face his fiance. At the same time Rex—who survived the bombing—uses the newly-discovered nano-technology to control Ana’s mind, turning her into the Baroness.

The key line in the movie occurs when Duke tells the Baroness he’s sorry for abandoning her. Her response: “Yeah, well, everyone is sorry for something.”

This leads directly to a flashback for the evil ninja, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee). As a child, Storm Shadow and G.I. Joe ninja, Snake Eyes (Ray Park), had been taught by the same master (Gerald Okamura). Storm Shadow was good; but Snake Eyes was just a little bit better. When the master named Snake Eyes top of class, Storm Shadow murdered their master.

Throughout G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, we see these broken relationships—relationships ravaged by fear, anger, greed, manipulation, jealousy, and hate. As expected for a movie of this genre, not much is offered in the way of dealing with these.

For Reflection/Discussion

:

1. What does the scripture teach us about how God intended human beings to live in relationship to one another? What does Genesis 2:20-25 teach us about how we were intended to live in relationship? What other scriptures can you think of that demonstrate God’s intent for our relationships?

2. The scriptures are full of broken relationships: Cain and Abel (Genesis 4:1-16), Jacob and Esau (Genesis 27, 32-33), Joseph and his brothers (Genesis 37, 42-45), David and Saul (1 Samuel 18-31), and so forth. Can you draw any connections between the relationships in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and relationships in the Bible? How are they similar and how are they different?

3. We don’t see much forgiveness in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (with one exception toward the end of the movie). What do the scriptures teach us about forgiving one another? What do you think Jesus might say to Duke and Ana? To Rex and Duke? To Rex and Ana? To Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes?

4. The review above used the following nouns to describe the relationships in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra: fear, anger, greed, manipulation, jealousy, and hate. Where do you see these qualities in the various characters’ relationships? Where do you see these qualities played out in relationships between people in the Bible? Based on scripture, how can we deal with these kinds of challenges when it comes to our relationships?