By Benjamin Svetkey
Updated August 05, 2009 at 04:00 AM EDT

Starring: Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller
Directed By: Stephen Sommers
Release Date: August 7

Another movie based on a TV cartoon that’s based on an action figure? ”Actually, we were working on a G.I. Joe movie long before we did Transformers,” says Lorenzo di Bonaventura, producer of both summer tentpoles. ”And our Joe isn’t based on the animated series — it’s based on the comic books that came out in 1982 and 1983.” Duly noted. But the film’s origins still go back to a 45-year-old 12-inch doll dressed in an American military uniform. You know, like the kind they wear in Iraq and Afghanistan. ”This G.I. Joe has nothing to do with American foreign policy,” promises di Bonaventura. ”It’s about a team of skilled operatives fighting an evil organization that’s trying to take over the world. There are no politics in it at all.” Right.

Oddly enough, no one in the film is named Joe (it’s a generic term for soldiers since the ’40s). Instead, lead fighter Duke (Tatum), team captain Hawk (Quaid), and a ninja named Snake Eyes (Ray Park) take on villains like the beautiful and treacherous Baroness (Miller) and the mysterious Cobra Commander (Gordon-Levitt), who wears a mask through much of the movie. ”You know, the grand tradition of acting — it all comes from masks,” Gordon-Levitt says. ”And this may be the only chance I’ll get to do that kind of acting.” Meanwhile, Marlon Wayans’ Ripcord fills another, equally classic role. ”I’m comic relief,” he says. ”I’m a Joe who can chop you in the throat while acing my delivery of a knock-knock joke.”