G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra

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Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 15 (violence, disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
  • a review of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 6 August 2009.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to frequent intense violence and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 13–15 Parental guidance recommended due to frequent violence and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 16 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length: 118 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Arms dealer James McCullen (Christopher Eccleston) runs a weapons manufacturing company that has developed ‘nanomite’ warheads; missiles loaded with microscopic computerised bugs that are capable of destroying anything and everything in their path. NATO has purchased four of McCullen’s warheads and a squad of American soldiers led by Duke (Channing Tatum) and Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) has been ordered to transport the warheads to a secure location. However, while on route Duke’s convoy is attacked by a force of super soldiers lead by Duke’s ex fiancé Ana/Baroness (Sienna Miller). All but Duke and Ripcord are killed, but a second mysterious force of super soldiers (G.I. Joes) arrives on the scene and saves the day by rescuing the warheads. Refusing to give up the warheads, Duke and Ripcord accompany the G.I. Joes back to their base in the middle of the Egyptian desert where both Duke and Ripcord are inducted into the G.I. Joe force.
We learn that the man behind the nano technology is a disfigured masked criminal referred to as “The Doctor” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) and are also introduced to two more of the film’s villains, Mr. Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) and the Ninja-styled Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee).
Just as Duke and Ripcord pass their G.I. Joe induction, the base is attacked by Storm Shadow, Baroness, Mr. Zartan and a small force of super soldiers, who manage to steal back the four warheads and then make their escape.
From now on the G.I. Joe Force is on a mission to stop the destruction of the world.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Revenge; Weapons of mass destruction.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

G.I. Joe contains stylised action violence (some of which is brutal), destruction, death and mayhem from start to finish with thousands of people killed and injured throughout the course of the film. However, while the violence is at times graphically depicted (heads exploding), it is depicted only briefly (in the blink of an eye) and at other times in a somewhat cartoon like manner, while blood and gore are depicted in a less than realistic manner by being kept to a minimum. Examples include:

  • We see a bound man taken into a medieval torture chamber circa 1641 and we see glimpses of prisoners in stocks and peering out of in cells. The man is tied standing to a wooded board and a red hot iron mask is fitted over the man’s face. He screams in agony and we hear the sound of flesh sizzling and see the man’s agonised eyes through the burning mask.
  • While transporting missiles an army convoy is attacked by a force of super soldiers. During the attack we see all manner of weapons fired including machineguns and missile launchers. Explosions propel bodies through the air, soldiers are punched and kicked in the face and body, a knife is stabbed into a man’s face, a laser styled crossbow bolt is shot into a man’s face followed by the man’s head exploding. Super soldiers receive what should be fatal wounds but rise from the ground as if uninjured. Several helicopters are shot out of the air, exploding in flames and falling to the ground with no chance of survivors.
  • During a fight a woman is impaled by a sword, with the bloody sword protruding from the front of her chest, and we see a number of men slashed across the chest by a sword. An explosion engulfs a man and we see him with his face on fire as he staggers around. A man is impaled through the chest by the prongs of a forklift truck as he is rammed against a wall. A grenade stuffed into the collar of a man’s protective suit explodes, blowing his head off; we see a quick glimpse of the head separating, but no blood and gore. A man falls on an electrical cable and is electrocuted, his body twitching and smouldering. Two women fight, with both women inflicting punches and kicks to the body and face. One wraps a chain around the other’s neck in an attempt to strangle her. We later see one of the same woman with a bloody cuts covering her face and badly bruised neck and see her break down and cry. A man lies on the ground with a knife imbedded in his chest.
  • In a flash back, two young boys (twelve years) fight using stylised martial arts with both boys inflicting numerous punches to the face and body. One also hits the other across the face with an iron frying pan and the other is attacked with a meat cleaver. The fighting also includes a boy being forced to walk across a burning stove top, a boy’s head being slammed against a wooden bench top and one boy head-butting the other in the face. In several other scenes we see the same two boys fighting each other using a variety of martial-arts weapons including numchucks, staffs, and swords. In a later scene, we see the boys kung fu master lying dead on the ground with a sword protruding from his back and see one of the boys (a young Storm Shadow) running away. 
  • While attacking a science laboratory, Storm Shadow uses ninja styled throwing stars to kill five men, one man is struck in the eye and we see his head thrown back and hear a crunch.
  • Baroness fires her gun in a crowded building, telling the people to get out then shooting randomly. Windows explode, showering glass in all directions and people are thrown through the air. Storm Shadow shoots an innocent man in cold blood in order to coerce people into doing his bidding. After obtaining what he wants, Storm Shadow stabs Baroness’s husband in the back with a knife. 
  • In a final battle between Storm Shadow and a G.I. Joe soldier, the two men slash at each other with samurai swords. By the end of the fight Storm Shadow is covered in gaping bloody cuts over his chest and arms and the fight ends when Storm Shadow is stabbed through his chest and then falls off a building.  

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A man is strapped to an operating table and a robotic arm with four large hypodermic needles attached approaches his face. The needles puncture the man’s face, he screams and his face contorts and transforms into that of an older man. There are similar images in several scenes.
  • The Doctor has a terribly disfigured face partially hidden behind a scary mask that distorts his voice and breathing. Towards the end of the film The Doctor removes his mask to reveal a face and head grotesquely disfigured by burns.
  • The Doctor, who is Baroness’ brother sneaks into her bedroom while she is sleeping and see The Doctor plunging a large hypodermic needle into the side of Baroness’s neck and injecting her width nanomites. When question about the morality of infecting his own sister with nanomites, The Doctor replies “Science requires sacrifices”.
  • In an effort to regain a dead man’s memories a G.I. Joe plunges two long knife-like probes into the sides of the man’s head; we hear the sound of bone crunching.
  • We see a large Cobra snake in a glass cage and see a man place his arm inside of the cage. The snake attacks and bites the man on the arm (we see to bloody puncture wounds) and the man pull his arm out and collapses. We see an image of microscopic nanomites in the man’s blood stream rejecting the poison and clear fluid being expelled from the puncture wounds.
  • We see images of a burning man and another man with his face on fire both still walking around.
  • Towards the end of the film McCullen is engulfed in flames and we see his badly burnt and grotesquely disfigured head and face.
  • We see a dead man dissolve into a puddle of gooey mess after nanomites inside the man’s body are activated.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many of the above-mentioned scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many of the above-mentioned scenes.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

In itself the film is a vehicle for the marketing of GI Joe toys, comics and merchandise which are likely to appeal to children.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Storm Shadow tells Baroness that he was ordered to kill her husband if he touched her, to which Baroness responds that her husband always performs better at work after touching her.
  • McCullen caresses the face of a holographic projection of Baroness She says that if she was there she might let McCullen touch her, but then reminds McCullen that she is married.
  • McCullen kisses Baroness on the lips and then asks Duke if it bothers him.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • We see numerous images of women wearing low cut tops that expose cleavage and also tight revealing clothing
  • On several occasions we see a man and woman kissing on the lips.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man is given a pain killing injection and refers to the contents of the injection as “primo stuff”.

Coarse language

There is some infrequent low-level coarse language and put downs in this movie. Examples include:

  • Arsehole, Scottish pigs, bastards, idiot, piss me off, O shit, bloody hell, we are screwed.


In a nutshell

The main message from this movie is that fighting the evils of the world requires a global response.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • courage
  • self sacrifice
  • perseverance

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Should some technologies not be developed simply because they are too dangerous, or should all technology be developed in the name of science and progress regardless of possible danger? 
  • The ideology behind terrorism and how it affects its victims.