If you’re a connoisseur of loud, expensive action films, you surely saw last year’s “The Day the Earth Stood Still,” whose niftiest special effect was the armor-plated termites that dissolved every gun, tank and edifice in their path. And if you buy a ticket for “G.I. Joe,” based on the Hasbro action figures, you’ll see those metallic insects yet again.
Here they’re called nanomites, manufactured by an evil Scottish munitions mogul named McCullen (Christopher Eccleston). The movie breathlessly shows them eating through metal, and the occasional human, as if this were a wildly original concept. That’s “G.I. Joe” in a high-tech nutshell, trading in clichés without a hint of embarrassment.
In a film as ridiculous as this one, pure gall can be a virtue. It begins, weirdly, in the year 1641 -- don’t ask -- then flash-forwards to a futuristic present as McCullen hatches the usual plot to conquer the world. At his side are a gun-toting vixen named Ana (Sienna Miller, strangely boring) and an unnamed evil scientist who hides his maimed face behind a black gas mask.
To the rescue comes G.I. Joe, not a person but a covert team of super-soliders culled from militaries around the globe and led by General Hawk (Dennis Quaid, virtually mimicking John Wayne). This armed fantasy league soon takes on two newcomers, Duke (Channing Tatum, totally expressionless) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans, mugging as if to compensate).
The special effects can be terrific -- a chase through Paris involves two guys in “accelerator suits” running after a speeding SUV -- and director Stephen Sommers (“The Mummy”) adds enough explosions to drown out the dull dialogue (the script required five writers). A few more fireballs could have spared us Alan Silvestri’s ear-pummeling score, too.
Still, it’s enjoyable enough while it’s speeding along. Like the Joes themselves, the movie succeeds by simply crashing headfirst through every obstacle.