G.I. Joe: Retaliation – Review and Trailer

dwayne-johnson-gi-joe-2-retaliation-2012__spantwo-stars1To say that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is better than its appalling predecessor, 2009’s The Rise of Cobra, is like saying that the AMC Gremlin is better than the Edsel. But there are some positives. First, all the Joes from the original are gone. Second, they dress like actual military personnel this time around.

And best of all, Channing Tatum’s Duke gets blown to smithereens about ten minutes in. Hallelujah.

Don‘t get the wrong idea, though: Retaliation is still a lousy movie. It barely differs from the original in terms of vapid characters and brain-dead plotting. About 75% of it will exit your memory before you’ve barely exited the theater, and it begins with the Joes pulling off a job in the enemy du jour North Koreans’ backyard, then later blasting their way into a Pakistani munitions factory to secure a warhead (what is this series’ fixation with warheads?). Earlier point proven: I can’t even remember the reason for the first mission as I’m writing this, but the film also does its part by forgetting the warhead after it’s obtained by the Joes.

Oh, and did you know that Duke and Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) were best buddies? Well, you will, because the script, penned by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, lays on their bromance from the outset with a steamroller. They engage in allegedly amusing guy banter on the target range, and, in a saccharine flashback, they play video games at Roadblock’s house while Duke hams it up with Roadblock‘s two young daughters (Brelyn and Amaya Plumbar).

However, the Joes are soon attacked on their desert base and suffer mass casualties. That is, literally everyone except Roadblock, Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki). Yep, for the second time in as many films, the Joes get their clocks cleaned on their own turf by Cobra and again blame it on being “set up,” but for being such a top-secret unit, you’d think they’d know better by now in terms of covering their tracks.

The surviving Joes have been framed for the attack by the President (Jonathan Pryce), who, as you may recall, is still Zartan (Arnold Vosloo, who has about five total seconds of screen time as himself), and who orders the Joes disbanded as a result. It’s up to the Three Musketeers to hunt down Zartan and clear their names before Cobra unleashes a scheme involving headache-inducing nonsense about Zeus satellites and nuclear war. The Joes later solicit the assistance of Joe Colton (Bruce Willis), retired general and the Joe unit’s namesake.

g-i-joe-retaliation-image03For G.I. Joe only being the centerpiece of this whole shebang, the number of actual Joes featured here – a whopping three – is inexcusable, as is their ongoing lack of characteristics; again, they‘re just nobodies in uniforms, played by pretty young faces best suited for Abercrombie & Fitch ads. Cotrona’s Flint looks like he’s barely out of college while the script adds salt to the wound by giving him absolutely nothing to do. Palicki fares no better as Lady Jaye, whose most memorable scene will sadly be stripping down to her undies, though it’s seen in the distorted reflection of an old TV screen. (However, the devil gets its due here for one reason only: she’s shedding a disguise worn in order to pose as a broadcast journalist and infiltrate a presidential gala in attempt to spy on the fake President; it’s the lone original character trait that any of the films actually gets right.) The 40-year-old Johnson easily acts circles around both of them as Roadblock, but that’s not exactly an accomplishment. Oh, and then there’s Willis, who must be here either to collect the easy paycheck, make the public forget A Good Day to Die Hard (yeah, right), or enable the director to boast about having a has-been A-lister in his movie. The disposable Colton serves no purpose to the story other than allowing Willis to play himself and shoot big guns. At least he doesn’t get dirty.

Cobra has been nearly as invisible as the Joes so far, because they’re shown working mostly as individuals instead of a single unit. Even Cobra Commander, finally seen in his tin-faced glory, disappears for long stretches as Pryce’s dual Presidents hog most of the limelight. Retaliation also marks the appearance of Firefly, a stealthy mercenary/saboteur who is of Asian origin but is portrayed here by Irish actor Ray Stevenson, who speaks in a weird accent that’s a jumble of Southern gumbo and British, but somehow it works as he’s the most memorable baddie by a mile. Oh, and remember Destro, who prominently featured in the original? He doesn’t appear at all. No idea why, but logic has never been a selling point of this series.

I’ve saved the worst for last: the ongoing Snake Eyes-Storm Shadow rumpus, which continues to exist only to satiate rabid fanboys while grinding the story to a halt. Stormie was seen falling down a pit Palpatine-style in the original’s ending but makes his return for reasons the sequel doesn’t bother explaining, and throughout the picture he puts his mask on and then rips it back off seconds later. The audience is additionally forced to endure a long and completely pointless sequence featuring Snake Eyes battling a bunch of generic red ninjas while they all climb up, rappel down, or zip across miles of wire improbably crisscrossed across endless Japanese mountain walls. But with its record now at 0-2, it’s time for this misbegotten franchise to officially throw itself off a rock.


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Categories: Reviews


  1. G.I. Joe: The Movie (1987) Review and Trailer | Filmbalaya.com - May 9, 2013

    […] I reviewed both G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and the sequel Retaliation, Adam offhandedly suggested whipping up a retrospective about the 1987 animated film G.I. Joe: The […]

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