My biggest problem with 2009s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was that it says just too generic. G.I. joe was always about colourful characters and ridiculous world domination plots and while it certainly had the latter it definitely lacked the former.
Retaliation fixes that first problem, mostly by casting Dwayne Johnson but also by adding Ry Stevenson and Jonathan Pryce. That’s not to say its perfect though, as it also adds Adrianne Palicki and D.J. Cotrona, the former of whom seems to phone in everything except her admittedly smoking hot body and the latter of which does pretty much precisely nothing except occasionally admire the formers admittedly smoking hot body.
Jonathan Pryce in particular has a ball playing Zartan playing the president, but it’s Johnson who anchors the film and he does a great job doing it. He’s perfectly suited to a movie that’s all about the action and explosions, not because he’s bad but because he buys in more than any of the other Joes that aren’t killed in the first reel. That would be a spoiler except that its in the trailer.
Channing Tatum is also nice to see and he has good chemistry with Johnson, and when Bruce Willis shows up he’s his usual Bruce Willisy self. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not exactly extraordinary either.
The plot is pretty basic and picks up a few years after the last film ended. Zartan is still the president. Joes still fight the bad guys. Cobra still wants to take over the world. Many explosions ensue. Zartan has the Joes and attacked and the few that survive fight the good fight.
That’s pretty much literally it. This movie isn’t rocket science it’s a toy commercial, remember? Cobra takes over the White House after the Joes are eliminated and the proceed to try to take over the world. They come pretty close too, and even blow up London –also not a spoiler as it’s in the trailer, but what’s not in the trailer is that they’ve actually clearly targeted Birmingham on the map– which elicits … well, nothing really. It happens and then no one ever mentions it again.
Also, Snake Eyes is half way around the world for most of this and leads his own subplot for the first and second act. Yes, the nameless, faceless, silent guy is the main character in his own separate thing for most of the movie. Of course if this movie were trying to sell character development that’d be a problem but since it’s trying to sell ninjas fighting on mountains and men with guns blowing things up it’s not really a problem at all.
The film’s main problem then is that it’s not really tense. There’s no real feeling of peril in the film. Even with 99% of the Joes dying in the first act it never feels like any of them are ever in any real danger. It’s not boring either, the action is well executed, it just falls somewhere in between. There aren’t any real surprises except possibly what new cars and guns they are going to show up to the next scene in.
So that’s it really. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is not a bad film and if you like movies with explosions you could do a lot worse this weekend. For those of you who had the toys growing up you can rest easy that yes this at least looks and feels like a G.I. Joe movie which is a welcome change from the previous one. There are plot holes you could drive a tank through but when it comes right down to it? I had fun watching this movie and that’s all that really matters with a movie like this.
**Rating: 7/10 **