G.I. Joe: Retaliation

By Joseph K. Saulnier

Who didn’t grow up as a child of the eighties and nineties and not play with G.I. Joes? And of those, who can honestly say they were not thoroughly disappointed in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra? Surprisingly, I can say that I wasn’t thoroughly disappointed, but I know the movie could have been so much more than it was. Could it have done without the surreal technology, the sappy love story and the unrealistic action scenes in the movie? Yes. Many fans cried out about this. G.I. Joe: Retaliation set out to respond.

Did they succeed? That’s debatable, but they did a lot of things right in the go-around. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not award winning or anything, and you should never expect a movie like this to be that. But let’s run through a check list. Sappy out of place love-story: gone. Surreal technology: less. Let’s face it, despite what some people felt about the first movie, it did kind of set that precedent. Retaliation is considered a true follow up to The Rise of Cobra. So would it honestly make any sense to go from one extreme of nearly impossible gadgets to none at all? Absolutely not. Besides, the cartoon series also had technology in it. I am not trying to defend the use of it, and there were some pretty crazy gadgets going on in this movie, but it seemed to jive better with what I remember of it as a kid. And they found a really unique way to tone it down without it not seeming right. Unfortunately, there is still a fair amount of unrealistic action in this movie, but that’s kind of become the norm for most action movies these days.

We pick up fairly close to where we left off in The Rise of Cobra. Duke (Channing Tatum) is now commanding a unit of the Joes with Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Flint and Snake Eyes (Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona and Ray Park respectively) under his command. The Joes are sent out on a mission, a good rapport is built between Duke and Roadblock, but then they go and destroy that when their convoy gets attacked by Cobra eliminating Duke from the rest of the film. Go cry spoiler somewhere else, this happens in the beginning of the movie, and it’s been everywhere since the delay of the movie from last year. I was hoping they would somehow managed to keep him in the movie, especially after seeing the chemistry between Tatum and Johnson, but alas…

So the convoy attacked, and all the Joes presumed dead. Only Roadblock, Jaye and Flint actually survive and try to get to the bottom of everything. Meanwhile President Zartan (remember how the last movie ended) is up to his own nefarious plans in breaking out Cobra Commander with the aide of Storm Shadow. The Joes work their magic, still have access to some technology (though not over the top like The Rise of Cobra), and recruit people to help them along the way, including the man who is the reason the Joes were started: General Joe Coulton (played epic-ly by Bruce Willis).

The movie was entertaining, had a lot of great and clever humor that wasn’t thrown in your face, and had some great action scenes (if you can get past the fact that in one scene they are fighting Cirque Du Soleil style on the side of a cliff). But it’s some of the little things in this movie that prevent it from redeeming the franchise after the first iteration, including the casting of RZA in a part that looks like it is meant to be serious, but his horrible acting make you really wonder if it was supposed to be a serious role or not. The other gripe I had with the movie was the unlikely resolution of the main conflict. With the Cobra Commander so confident in his plan, why would he, or any self-respecting super villain, deliver a way to foil the evil plan with literally half a second left on a silver platter. The last issue I had with the movie was Storm Shadow. I really liked the conflict between him and Snake Eyes in The Rise of Cobra, but they seemed to discredit his character a lot in this movie. Ultimately they changed the nature of Storm Shadow to make it seem as if he might switch sides in any future installments of the franchise, and that’s just not cool. The character was awesome the way he was.

As for the 3D aspect, it’s said this was the reason that the studio delayed the movie for a year. They wanted to add more effects to it. This tells me two things: the movie was shot in 2D and they had little faith in it. Honestly, I think we all know they tried to add more Duke to the movie in this time (which it’s really hard to tell if they did), but you can tell there was work done with 3D aspect. Too much. It was very distracting at points, and it seemed liked they added elements to scenes just to have 3D. For instance there was a scene where you were in a situation room viewing information on a monitor. It literally looked like they just super imposed a shoulder into the lower right of the screen so they could have in 3D as if you were looking over someone’s shoulder. That’s just silly.

All that being said. I had fun watching the movie. Dwayne Johnson is becoming a powerhouse that everyone was expecting him to years ago. I hope that he can continue this streak with some good movies (he’s got two more within the next month alone). I own the first one on Blu Ray, and I will probably buy this one when comes out as well. I would watch it in theater just for the enormity of the action on the big screen, but skip the 3D.

3.5 stars out of 5.