Review: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
A select few attractive and tough soldiers are all that remain after fatal ambush, set in motion by their own government. As they seek to uncover the truth, they are forced up against the evil Cobra Corporation, whose plans involve world domination and nuclear power. Or something like that, it can’t possible matter, and little of it makes sense anyway.
Who’s in It?
Channing Tatum is one of the very few who return for this oft-delayed sequel. Jonathan Pryce is the President again, stealing the scenes he is in, while The Rock, Adrianne Palicki, and Bruce Willis add some big name and major hotness power to the roster. I’ll leave you to figure who falls into which category.
Four years later, the G.I. Joe movie franchise returns with the same type of stylized action, driven by rock music, big explosions, and all sorts of swagger. It sees a new director (John Chu), new writing team (Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick), and a lot of new faces. Thank goodness for the return of Jonathan Pryce and Byung-hun Lee, though, as they remain two the most entertaining characters there are, in what is more or less a standard silly loud action movie.
Channing Tatum is Duke, leading the G.I. Joes that includes Roadblock (an immensely muscular Dwayne Johnson), with whom Duke has a very curious homo-social relationship, and Lady Jaye, a tall, slender, army brat whose back story has to do with being attractive and a solider at the same time. They are all thrown for a loop when branded as traitors, as the United States government has been infiltrated by Cobra, and chaos ensues.
The President is not who he seems, and because of his odd duality, Pryce can have a ball. He teases world leaders, screws around with nuclear launch codes, and offers some hysterical evil that is maniacal and perfectly cartoonish (a goofier Elliot Carver, if possible). Then there is Storm Shadow (Lee), the most fun action star in the film; he is after all a ninja. He seems to fit the tone of the movie more than the others, with less mugging and more subtle winking to the absurdity of a convoluted and illogical plot.
Between gun fire and explosions (The Rock blows up a lot of stuff), there is lengthy battle among ninjas in the snowy mountaintops. It begins with a brotherly duel, and carries on with acrobatic cliff-side fighting. It hits the exact mark that movies of this ilk try hard but often fail to achieve (Fast and Furious tends to know how to do this). Yes, it is ridiculous and truly doesn’t make sense, but it is such an earnest and innovative onslaught of action, and such a mesmerizing visual, that it is simply irresistible fun.
The rest, well, it’s the usual. And would you know it, the film leaves the door opened for a sequel.
Should You See It?
If it is a loud, frenzied, two-hour distraction you are looking for, yes. And don’t think for a second you need to know anything of the first movie, or anything about the characters – the movie is 3D, they aren’t.
Most are clichéd but The President has quite a few good one-liners. On meeting the Cobra operative Firefly: “Nice to see we have no shortage of crazy on our hands.”