Movie review: Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins
So Henry Golding is not just another pretty face.
His debonair good looks, posh British accent, nice-guy sincerity and genial charm allowed him to sail through rom-coms such as Crazy Rich Asians and Last Christmas.
He served up spades of style and the ladies swooned, but was there any substance?
Now that the rising Malaysian-British star is playing Snake Eyes, one of the coolest, most popular characters in Hasbro's G.I. Joe universe, in his first major lead role no less, the studio's gamble has paid off - to a certain extent.
Golding can carry a movie and he does have decent acting - and action - chops.
Having said that, he also deserves a much better star vehicle than this.
Rival ninjas Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow were Hollywoodised in the first two G.I. Joe films in 2009 and 2013 - portrayed by Ray Park and Lee Byung-hun respectively - which even featured a flashback of their history as young boys.
Currently showing in cinemas here, Snake Eyes: G.I. Joe Origins is not just an origin story for the title character but also a reboot of the film franchise, with Golding as black-clad masked warrior Snake Eyes and Andrew Koji as his volatile blood brother-turned-archenemy Tommy Arashikage, also known as Storm Shadow.
Here, Snake Eyes is a mysterious loner who is initiated into the ancient Japanese Arashikage clan after saving the life of its heir apparent, Tommy.
He is taught to fight and is given a home, but secrets from his past test his honour and allegiance.
Oh, and the Baroness (Ursula Corbero) from terrorist organisation Cobra as well as G.I. Joe agent Scarlett (Samara Weaving) show up late in the game, just in case you forgot about the link to the wider cinematic universe.
Perhaps taking a leaf out of the far superior set-in-Japan The Wolverine (2013), this action thriller is a generic, overly familiar jumble of ninja, yakuza, martial arts and revenge films, with heavy doses of cheesy and at times nonsensical family drama, betrayal and bromance.
The scenes set in a snake pit inhabited by sacred anacondas lying in wait to devour those who are not pure of heart are more preposterous than petrifying, no thanks to the dodgy CGI.
However, leading men Golding and Koji are ridiculously easy on the eye and wield enough charisma for the whole enterprise to be serviceably entertaining, with a sequel being imminent.
So Snake Eyes is not the worst possible result, but hopefully the next roll of the dice will yield a more desirable outcome.
SNAKE EYES: G.I. JOE ORIGINS (PG13)