If you wanted to be charitable, you would say that G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra wasn’t a very good movie. If you weren’t feeling charitable you would say that it sucked like an airplane toilet. In a misguided attempt to capitalize on the success of Transformers it seemed like Paramount Pictures rushed G.I. Joe into the theatres. The story was threadbare and the direction was ham-handed, making most people think that there was no chance for G.I. Joe to become a franchise. Four years later, Paramount and MGM cleaned house and decided to take another swing at making this a viable action film.
In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the terrorist organization Cobra has infiltrated the White House and now has an impostor in the Oval Office. They plan to use this to create a super weapon that can even make other nation’s nuclear arsenals obsolete. The fraudulent President accuses the elite combat unit G.I. Joe of assassinating the President of Pakistan and orders a surprise military attack to wipe them out. The survivors are forced to regroup and rescue the nation from a complete Cobra takeover.
The only holdovers from the original are Channing Tatum as Duke, Ray Park as Snake Eyes and Byung-Hun Lee as Storm Shadow and breathing new life into the cast is a huge positive for G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Adrianne Palicki and D.J. Cotrona do the heavy lifting in this movie and they seem much more suited to this type of film. Johnson has the size and swagger of an old-school action hero and you don’t realize how much you miss that archetype until you haven’t seen it for a while. This is a throwback action movie that is all about the guns, swords and muscles. There are a few cool new technological ideas in the movie, but every action sequence comes down to man against man. This felt more like the recent Expendables movies than the Marvel Superheromovies and I think that is a better match for a story that is essentially about soldiers. Bruce Willis is a fun addition in his limited screen time and I always love seeing Ray Stevenson in anything, but I thought that Byung-Hun Leereally popped every time he was on screen and he was very magnetic in a role that was heavily beefed up from the first film. I like good action movies and this was a good action movie, and this should prove definitively that Dwayne Johnson is ready to star in a big budget franchise that rests solely on his strength and charisma. I give G.I. Joe: Retaliation a B.
I did not see the first G.I. Joe movie and my only knowledge of the series comes from my childhood recollections of the toys. There were a few times during the show when I wasn't entirely sure what was happening and why everyone hated each other, but they didn't dwell on those topics long. This movie is a traditional action flick, with tons of guns, bombs and completely implausible scenarios for our heroes to escape from. As a whole I found it entertaining. There were times, such as the scenes in Tokyo, where the dialogue was so lame all I could do was cringe, but the rest of the time I wasn't annoyed by the shallow dialogue. I did find myself routing for the super-macho Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, he makes me wish that all soldiers were so buff. I also really enjoyed the martial arts scenes, although I don't completely understand why the U.S. military would have someone like Snake Eyes in their unit. The cheese factor was high, but it was still fun. C+