“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” Movie Review


     I suppose I should’ve anticipated this one, but no, I had to see for myself that “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” would instantly be in the running for one of the worst films of the year.  Even with the addition of Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis, the film suffers greatly from an incoherent paper thin storyline that serves merely as connective tissue for several action set pieces.  For some odd reason, the studio hired director John Chu to helm this debacle with only the Just Bieber documentary and the “Step Up” sequels on his limited resume.  Though the result is not a complete disaster, some of the action sequences are watchable, “Retaliation” requires knowledge from both the “G.I. Joe” toy line, as well as the previous film.  In other words, you can’t just walk into this one and expect to understand, not that you’d want to anyway.

     The G.I. Joe’s are a fictional special forces unit normally dispatched by the President to handle missions against the world’s terrorists (They are strikingly similar to the unit in “Team America: World Police”!).  One of those terrorists, Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), uses a futuristic make up system to make himself look the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce) and has his henchman kidnap the real POTUS.  Having inherited the power of the office, he declares the G.I. Joe’s to be enemies of the United States and has them wiped out.  Only a handful survive, including Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) and Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), who then enlist Joe himself, played by Bruce Willis, in an attempt to take back the government and clear their names.  In the meantime, Zartan and the Cobra Commander are involved in a terror plot that involves the leaders of each nation in a room, each equipped with a briefcase which has the proverbial “red button” capable of launching that countries entire nuclear arsenal.  I know....lame.  The scene is no different than the one where all of the members of the United Nations are dehydrated to powder form in the 60’s Batman flick, but I digress.

     Chu jumps around from scene to scene with no logical method for doing so.  When Snake Eyes (Ray Park) is introduced, he and Jinx (Elodie Yung) engage in a mountain side battle with ninjas as they fly around attached to repelling rope.  Since they are all fighting each other with swords, it really makes no sense to even engage in such an attack because of the ease of simply cutting the rope, leaving that person to fall to his death.  For the sake of an action scene, the combatants instead fight each other sword versus sword which means these guys are obviously brain dead.  You, in fact, really have no idea what they’re even doing there in the first place since Snake Eyes doesn’t speak.  Later you surmise they are there to kidnap Storm Shadow, but you never really know why until certain scenes play out later.  This whole Snake Eyes thing got me wondering.  Why is it that Ray Park (Darth Maul, Toad) always plays characters that don’t speak?

     If you’ve seen the film’s trailer, than you’ve already seen everything notable “Retaliation” has to offer.  You would think there would be more to the clip showing England’s demise at the hands of a brutal WMD, but no.  The clip in the trailer is exactly what they show in the movie, no more, no less.  Pretty much all of Channing Tatum’s lines are in the trailer as well, and in fact, the entire plot is so simple that if you watched the “Retaliation” trailer, you’ve basically seen the movie!  I’m sure you can guess the ending.  It’s not like the bad guys win.

     As Joe, Bruce Willis is featured front and center in the film’s ad campaign yet he hardly appears in the film and really adds nothing of note.  “Retaliation” was held up for nearly a year (it was supposed to hit theaters last May) so  Channing Tatum’s character Duke could be reedited so as to make his presumed death more questionable, likely to leave an opening for the inevitable third film in the series. Apparently, his turns in “21 Jump Street” and “Magic Mike” made the studio rethink his marketability going forward. In addition, the studio also converted the film to 3D in an effort to blood suck more dollars out of the moviegoing public.  I’m not really sure why people continue to pay to see this type of horrid fare, but I did so you don’t have to.  Be warned. GRADE: F