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G.I. Joe is a 2009 American action film based on the Hasbro toyline of the same name. The film stars Sam Worthington, Chris Evans, Jessica Chastain, Terry Crews, Johnny Galecki and Scott Adkins and was directed by Antoine Fuqua. A sequel entitled G.I. Joe: Renegades was released in 2013.

Plot

Dr James McCullen is the head of M.A.R.S. Industries, which stands for Military Armaments Research Facility. M.A.R.S. creates a new weapon based on nanotechnology, using nanomites capable of devouring entire cities. Following a presentation, McCullen sells four of these warheads to NATO, who then entrust American soldiers Conrad "Duke" Hauser and Wallace "Ripcord" Weems to deliver them. 

Unexpectedly, the convoy is attacked in an ambush by armed militia led by a mysterious woman. Duke is horrified when he recognizes the woman as someone called Ana. Before she can kill the two, Duke and Ripcord are rescued by team of commandoes consisting of Scarlett, Roadblock, Breaker and silent ninja Snake Eyes. 

Duke and Ripcord are escorted back to their saviour's command center, the Pit, where they are introduced to leader General Hawk. Hawk explains that they are G.I. Joe, an elite covert special mission unit. After Hawk dismisses them, Duke reveals that he wants to join G.I. Joe, but Hawk rebuffs him. Duke is then forced to reveal that he knows the woman who attacked them.

Duke explains that she is his former fiancé, Ana Lewis. Prior to their wedding, Duke and Ripcord served alongside Ana's genius brother Rex in the Middle East. Rex was sent into an abandoned bunker to investigate it; he was given five minutes by Duke, explaining that after five minutes an air strike would destroy the bunker. However, the air strike arrived ahead of time and destroyed the bunker before Rex could escape, killing him. This disaster subsequently devastated Duke and Ana's relationship, and he disappeared from her life. The Joes look into her and learn that she has since married a man named Daniel DeCobray, a baron, making her a Baroness. Then, using a tracking device on the missiles, they learn that they are headed for Paris, so the Joes pursue them.

In Paris, the Baroness and her men storm into a civilian lab owned by Baron DeCobray, who the Baroness forces to fully weaponize the missiles. Afterwards, she kills him and sets off, only to find herself pursued by Duke, Ripcord, Scarlett, Roadblock, Breaker and Snake Eyes. They are unable to stop her from firing one of the warheads at the Eiffel Tower, destroying it. As the nanomites spread, the team realises that if they are not stopped they will destroy Paris. Duke is forced to leap into the Baroness' helicopter to hit the kill switch, but is knocked out and captured.

The other Joes learn the location of McCullen's secret base; the Arctic Circle, which is where Duke is being held. Meanwhile, Duke is introduced to Dr Mindbender, the scientist which created the nanomites. Mindbender explains that he was hiding in the basement of the Middle Eastern bunker, where he was found by Rex. Rex recognized him as an old colleague, causing him to hesitate. Suddenly, the bunker was destroyed, but Mindbender survived and continued to develop the nanotechnology. McCullen then enters with the Baroness and reveals that he will launch the remaining three warheads at Beijing, Moscow and Washington, D.C. However, Duke is confused when McCullen informs him that he plans to do this so that everybody will turn towards the US President. 

The other Joes arrive at the base and begin their assault to rescue Duke. They witness McCullen firing the warheads, to their horror. Snake Eyes manages to stop one, leaving Ripcord to commandeer a M.A.R.S. prototype aircraft to shoot the other two down. Snake Eyes and Scarlett then release Duke, with Scarlett knocking the Baroness out, while McCullen panics and tries to shoot Duke, blowing up a gas canister and burning his own face. Outside the base in the water, Roadblock leads a team of submarines to attack the base. Duke chases the fleeing Mindbender and the two engage in a vicious fight in the base's generator. Before he is defeated, Mindbender comments that Rex may still be alive. Duke tries to get more information, before Mindbender falls further into the generator to his death. The Joes are then forced to flee as the base begins to explode. 

McCullen, badly scarred, is dragged into an escape submarine by the Baroness, when the two are confronted by a masked man they refer to as Commander. He places an irremovable metal mask on McCullen, renaming him Destro. The new villain then informs McCullen that M.A.R.S. is now obsolete, revealing that a new organization now stands in it's place; Cobra.

In the aftermath of the crisis, the Joes return home but are not publicly hailed as heroes, with General Hawk reminding him that they "don't exist." Scarlett finally kisses Ripcord, who has been chasing her affection the whole movie. Hawk invites Duke and Ripcord to become full members of G.I. Joe, much to their delight. Duke vows to find Ana and somehow save her. 

At the end of the film, the President is seen returning to the White House after being locked into a safe bunker during the missile crisis. Once he is alone, he reveals himself to be the impostor Zartan, who has now infiltrated the White House and has the power of the US President, ending the film on a cliffhanger which is resolved in G.I. Joe: Renegades.

Cast

G.I. Joe

Sam Worthington - Conrad "Duke" Hauser

Chris Evans - Wallace "Ripcord" Weems

Jessica Chastain - Shana "Scarlett" O'Hara

Terry Crews - Marvin "Roadblock" Hinton

Johnny Galecki - Alvin "Breaker" Kibby

Scott Adkins - Snake Eyes

Harrison Ford - General Clayton "Hawk" Abernathy

Cobra

Charlie Adler - Cobra Commander (Voice)

Doug Jones - Cobra Commander (Body)

Robert Carlyle - James McCullen/Destro

Lena Headey - Ana Lewis/Anastasia DeCobray/The Baroness

Tom Hardy - Dr Mindbender 

Richard Armitage - Zartan

Other

John Lithgow - President Jim Phillips

Liam Hemsworth - Rex Lewis

Mads Mikkelsen - Baron Daniel DeCobray

Production

The project originally existed as an idea in the early 2000's for a film called G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes. The film was actually set to be a live-action continuation of the original Sunbow cartoon from the 1980's. Rapper Common was reportedly signed to play Heavy Duty in the film. Simon West was in talks to direct. For unknown reasons, the project fell apart and never materialized.

Following the 2007 success of Transformers: Robots in Disguise, interest in a G.I. Joe film was renewed. Production began quickly with the first set of actors, the core Joe team, being signed to appear in the film. Later, much of the Cobra cast was revealed. Doug Jones was publicly revealed as to have a minor role in the film, but the character was not named. Charlie Adler's role was kept a secret; a result of this secretive combination led to the Commander's appearance at the end being something of a surprise for some fans. 

After enjoying a box office and critical success, a sequel was commissioned. Most of the actors were quick to sign on, expressing much anticipation for the sequel. Antoine Fuqua was initially unsure of returning, fearing that we would be directing the same movie twice. After discussing the plot outline ideas with the script writers, he saw that the sequel would be differentiated enough from the first film and agreed to direct. G.I. Joe: Renegades was released in 2013.

Reception

The film was a major box office success. There were worries at Hasbro as the film was being released in the same summer as Transformers 2: Rise of Unicron. Despite this, both film were box office smashes and it was an immensely successful summer for Hasbro. 

The film also enjoyed critical success, with many fans cheering for the film and finding to be both faithful to the mythos and a refreshing new take. Many also praised the suprise arrival of the Commander at the end, and the overall handling of the franchise. Many mainstream critics did not enjoy it quite as much, due to a lack of personal connection the the story and characters, but admitted that it was a brilliant action film. They also mentioned that the characterization was incredibly well done, once again noting that they enjoyed the characters in spite of knowing little about the mythology. 

Lena Heady's performance was widely acclaimed and she even won two minor awards for her peformance. The Baroness has been described as one of her break out roles and much of the fanbase was overwhlemed with euphoria when it was announced that she would return for the sequel.

Quotes

General Hawk: G.I. Joe. Technically speaking, we do not exist. But if we did, we'd be comprised of the best men and women from the top military units in the world. When all else fails, we don't.


Dr Mindbender: So far, we have created twenty Neo Vipers, nineteen now stand before you.

James McCullen: The treatment, is it working?

[Mindbender looks at him]

Dr Mindbender: We have injected 1,000 cc of the nanomite solution into each subject. When they finally stopped screaming, our brain scans showed a complete inactivity of the self preservation region of the cortex.

James McCullen: Come again, doctor?

Dr Mindbender: [Sighs] They feel no fear. Cortical nerve clusters showed compelte inactivity. They feel no pain. Concepts of morality are disengaged. They feel no regrets. No remorse.

James McCullen: And they are completely obedient?

Dr Mindbender: Of course. The real world applications are...endless. So, you tell me, is it working?


The Baroness: My god, James!

The Commander: Step away, Baroness. I will handle this.

[The Commander clamps a metal mask down on McCullen's scarred face]

Baroness: What have you done to him!?! James!

The Commander: James McCullen...is no more. You once told me, that if you lost M.A.R.S., then you would become a...

James McCullen - DESTRO!

The Baroness: Oh my god, James...

The Commander: Do not cry for him, my dear Baroness. It is a sign of weakness.

[The Baroness glares at him]

The Commander: The time has come for the Cobra to rise up and reveal itself...you will call me...COMMANDER!

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