G.I. Joe: Retaliation Entertains But Lacks Zest

I’ve never been a big fan of G.I. Joe. As a child, I would play with the original dolls which had the pull string on his back, poseable arms and legs, and real hair with a beard. Every version of the toy looked the same except that they’d give him a different uniform and hair color.

When the G.I. Joe boom hit in the 1980s, I really wasn’t too interested in army men with fancy weaponry. All my attention at the time was spent on Star Wars, Star Trek, Batman, Planet of the Apes, and classic horror monsters. The whole franchise just didn’t appeal to me.

After Duke and his team of Joes are ambushed and left for dead, three survivors find themselves fugitives on the run. The President declares the group traitors for the assassination of a foreign government’s leader. However, the President isn’t who everyone thinks he is. Zartan, an evil minion of Cobra Commander, is disguised as the Commander-in-Chief through advanced technology.

Cobra Commander plots to use Zartan’s position to convince all foreign countries to throw down their nuclear arms. Little do they know his real plan is to have them disarm their missiles while he conquers the world with the use of a new kinetic weapon. It can do the same damage as a nuclear bomb but with none of the atomic fallout. Roadblock and the other survivors call upon the man who started the elite military team, Joe Colton, to foil Cobra’s plans and clear their names.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation will satisfy fans upset by The Rise of Cobra. There’s nowhere near as many cool gadgets as there were in the first film. It’s not devoid of tricked-out weapons and vehicles, but it doesn’t rely as heavily on them.

Most of the action sequences are human-based versus bombs blowing things up and ships shooting at each other. I can understand why audiences want more interaction between real people and less CGI animation. However, there’s just so many different ways you can run around shooting each other before it all starts to run together in the viewer’s eyes.

I found myself missing elements of the first film, such as the spectacular scene where Duke and Ripcord run through the streets of Paris in their cyber suits while Scarlett and Snake Eyes chase down the Baroness and Stormshadow in their SUV. The sequence where Snake Eyes and Jinx are battling Cobra ninjas on the side of a cliff in Retaliation comes close, but still didn’t quite top it.

There’s also nothing in Retaliation that matches the visual eye-candy of the green clouds of nanotechnology devouring the Eiffel Tower and anything else in their path. The closest thing we get to that in this is a short scene of London being destroyed by a kinetic bomb and satellites blowing up.

The casting for G.I. Joe: Retaliation is hit and miss. Dwayne Johnson plays the same character he always does, which is fine because he’s always likeable. He’s not quite as humorous but gets the job done. Bruce Willis is great as Joe Colton, although he’s only seen on screen for maybe twenty minutes. They could’ve done so much more with his role. I think it’s pretty obvious why Adrianne Palicki was chosen to play Lady Jay. Guys love to look at her and she’s adequate at playing a tough girl who’s easy on the eyes.

I doubt any blame can be directly laid on D.J. Cotrona, but the character of Flint was absolutely useless. I don’t know why they didn’t just keep Channing Tatum in the film or bring back Marlon Wayans as the comic relief, which is noticeably missing here. At least the role of Ripcord served some type of purpose in The Rise of Cobra.

I would love to find out what took Paramount so long to get this movie out. They reported that they wanted to do a proper job of converting it to 3D. Then word hit the internet that test audiences wanted more Channing Tatum and Dwayne Johnson interaction.

First, I can’t imagine what the 3D adds to the movie. I can usually tell when seeing a movie in 2D what would be highlighted in the 3D version and there wasn’t much here. How long can it possibly take for a professional 3D transfer to be completed? I can’t imagine it merits enough time to set a release date back almost a year.

Secondly, anything extra they would’ve shot with Channing Tatum in it didn’t add anything to the film in hindsight. If I were to make a guess, they shot the intro James Bond mission sequence for the beginning and a scene of the two actors playing a video game at Roadblock’s house. There’s no way the additional scenes could’ve taken any longer than two to three weeks to finish.

When I see a big popcorn blockbuster sequel like this, I expect it to attempt to outdo its predecessor. That’s not the case with G.I. Joe: Retaliation. If anything, it’s director John M. Chu overcompensating for what he thinks fans were disappointed with in The Rise of Cobra. With all its flaws, I would still recommend it to moviegoers looking for something fun to watch on a Saturday afternoon.