I’m one of the rare few who actually had an awful lot of fun with G.I. JOE – THE RISE OF COBRA. I thought – like most truly good summer fare – it was a motion picture that set out with modest ambitions knowing full well what it was going to be: little more than a popcorn flick, with enough action and goofy goodness thrown in to keep minds busy while wasting a few brain cells on mindless adventure. It kinda/sorta evoked in me that same gee-willikers sense of fun and camaraderie that the very first STAR WARS (since retitled to STAR WARS: EPISODE IV – A NEW HOPE) did when I was a sprite. You had obvious heroes; you had obvious villains; and you knew that – once they met – there were going to be plenty of explosions.
To my dismay, G.I. JOE – RETALIATION really shirked that original formula in favor of watered-down blandness.
Now – to be fair – I know that there was some scuttlebutt back during its production about the studio wanting to do reshoots in order to beef up Channing Tatum’s role once he emerged as some cinema wunderkind for his part in crafting MAGIC MIKE (a narrative that had zero relation to the G.I. JOE universe that I could fathom). Stupid is as stupid does, as they say, and RETALIATION couldn’t have changed all that much as Channing’s Duke disappears somewhat early in the picture. In as a more-than-suitable replacement leading man / action hero is Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, someone whose penchant for fisticuffs and kid-friendly machismo makes him a perfect contender. He does what he can here, but, still, I can’t help but admit my disappointment with this JOE.
The story picks up some time after the events of COBRA (for example, Destro and Cobra Commander have been captured and locked away in some secret black prison), and only StormShadow and Snake Eyes return to solid roles from the first picture, along with screen veteran Jonathan Pryce as the kinda/sorta U.S. President and kinda/sorta villain-in-disguise Zartan (who is also played again by regular screen heavy Arnold Vosloo). Otherwise, vast and deep budget cuts have reduced the Joes from having their own private subterranean command center / zip code to basically one battalion of sweaty and muscled combat soldiers (mostly without all the great nicknames like SparrowButt and DeadEyeJake and Dunderhead). Now, Zartan and Cobra Commander have launched a campaign to rid the world of nukes (???) because they’re secretly got an even bigger weapon up their orbital sleeves. In a single stroke, they pretty much wipe out the Joes, leaving Johnson’s RoadBlock and two others heading back to the United States where they’re hoping to find an ally with their group’s founder, General Joe Colton (a predictable but reliable Bruce Willis).
Unlike COBRA, RETALIATION is really dumbed down … and not in a good, wholesome way. As I said, the first flick held its aspirations in check, but this go ‘round feels like it was a script left over from, say, some unproduced episode of POWER RANGERS (another kid-friendly property). There’s never any real sense of intrigue like the first picture, and I can’t help but blame much of it on the cookie-cutter script by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. They’ve both done vastly better things with other properties, but so much of this story feels like it was originally envisioned as a TV-movie-of-the-week or some direct-to-DVD franchise. Either way, director John Chu – a talent with little to no background in actioners (much of his resume are teenage pop concert films or dance flicks (???) – didn’t do the franchise any favors except for being a much more affordable choice than Stephen Sommers ever was.
WATCHABLE BUT DISAPPOINTING is the best I can say for G.I. JOE – RETALIATION. There are some nice action sequences (i.e. the mountaintop sequences though entirely implausible work like great video game fun, and who doesn’t like watching a marauding tank destroy things?, etc.), but this JOE let ‘Merica down. Big time.
There are films that ask you to accept the premise before going in. There are movies that ask you to accept certain plot elements though they don't make sense. There are movies that ask you to shut off your brain and just go with the idiocy. And then there is GI Joe. Nothing makes sense in this film. Not a single solitary thing. It isn't suspension of belief that this movie asks of you, but the utter ejection of your brain into a little jar which you might hopefully get back at the … more
No lies when I am a big GI Joe fan and while I found 2009's Rise of Cobra entertaining, I found so much flawed, tinkered with and changed for big screen appeal or other reasons that it left a sour taste in my mouth. Sure we got masked mooks being blown up by our heroes, the ninjas and more but any Joe fan knew something better was out there. This film was put off for many months for a 3D conversion and I want my extra 3 bucks back since it made the action wobbly and harder to follow … more
Against my friends’ warnings, I needed to see a movie that would allow me to space out since my allergies were bothering me. So I said “what the hey, I’ll rent G.I. JOE: Retaliation”….well, it was a tad better than the first movie, but really it left me with such an empty experience that I’d rather not write a full review on it. It does have several good moments of action, I also liked the subplot about Snake Eyes, Jinx and Storm Shadow, … more