G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a silly action film that simply asks its audience to turn the brain completely off so that it can have a good time. If you do that, the film is a blast to watch and is filled with enough action sequences and corny one-liners to be worthy of the toy line and comics that inspired it. The film fixes everything that was wrong with the first outing, and leaves you possibly wanting another.Based on the Hasbro's G.I. Joe toy line, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was directed by Jon M. Chu with a screenplay from Zombieland’s Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. It stars Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bruce Willis, D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, and Channing Tatum - in a very limited role.
The film opens with a brief recap of 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, but thankfully uses little elements from that film. Led by Duke (Tatum) and his friend Roadblock (Johnson), the Joes have become the "go to" team for the President in matters of national security. The audience is introduced to how well the Joes works as the team, which includes Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), as they complete a mission in North Korea before being tasked to retrieve nuclear warheads in Pakistan.
Unfortunately for the Joes, the President (Pryce) isn't who he appears to be and is actually the dreaded Zartan (Vosloo) - who is still working for Cobra. Zartan manages to frame the Joes for stealing the warheads, and orders an airstrike to take them all out. He also tasks Storm Shadow (Lee) and Firefly (Stevenson) to free Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) from his underground prison.
Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye survive the attack and start their plans to get back to the U.S. to get revenge. Snake Eyes (Park) goes back to the Arashikage Clan and is tasked by Blind Master (RZA) to bring the injured Storm Shadow back so he can answer for the murder of Hard Master. Snake Eyes is also joined by Jinx (Elodie Yung).
The film then divides its story with Roadblock and company heading back to the U.S. to discover who was behind the attack on the Joes and Snake Eyes traveling into the mountains for a showdown with Storm Shadow.
The film basically moves from action sequence to action sequences with a thin story and short dialogue moments to keep the plot moving. Roadblock and company discover the President’s true identity and seek the help of original Joe General Joseph Colton (Willis), who is now retired but still well armed. The always chatty Snakes Eyes takes on a ton of ninjas to deliver Storm Shadow back to Blind Master. The film stalls a tad as the two characters backstory is again shown and the truth of Storm Shadow's betrayal revealed.
The two teams of Joes reunite for the film’s final action sequence as they take on Cobra Commander and his forces to stop him from getting control of the world’s nuclear weapons.
Without a doubt, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a silly movie and has problems. It is also a blast to watch and does a great job distancing the franchise from the Joes first outing – which was too campy even for a film based on a toy.
The film greatly benefits from the presence of Johnson and the natural charisma he brings to the screen. The actor fits into the franchise perfectly, and helps the audience stay entertained between the action sequences during the short moments of plot and dialogue. His interactions with Tatum were great and got you hooked on the film in the opening moments. Tatum’s early exit hurts the film, and you can’t help but wonder how much stronger a film it could have been if the actor had a larger role (despite his part already being expanded).
Regardless of the actors and their level of talent, the real stars of G.I. Joe: Retaliation are the action sequences and Chu manages to capture what fans of the G.I. Joe comics/animated series/toy line want – ninjas and massive explosions! Storm Shadow’s capture in the mountain is simply incredible to watch and you literally feel tired by the time it is over. The final battle features The Rock and a tank. Do I need to say more? Oh and Bruce Willis does his thing too.
Along with looking and sounding great on Blu-ray, the film comes loaded with bonus material that includes commentary from Chu and producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura; various looks at how the movie made it to the screen; looks at the film's stunts; and deleted scenes.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation was a step in the right direction for the Joes film franchise, and manages to keep the audience entertained from start to finish. It has some problems, but Joes fans will find plenty to love with this entry. Personally, I am looking forward to a third film.