And the Joes keep on going...

G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie review

On April 2, 2013

Film: G. I. Joe: Retaliation

Release Date: March 28

Studio: Paramount Pictures

Grade: B-

G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the sequel to the dreadful G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra from 2009, finally gets in on the joke.

Oh, it's unceasingly preposterous all right, as most action extravaganzas should be. Viewers almost expect Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson to wink at the camera in jest while performing his bruise-inducing fighting sequences.

However, this sequel embraces its preposterousness unlike the brainless seriousness of the first installment. Against insurmountable doubt, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a minimally engaging action retread.

That isn't saying much, but this film should accept any compliment it can get.

The difference stems from the writing. Screenwriting team Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (The Joe Schmo Show) possess trained ears for cornball dialogue, having also collaborated on the screenplay of the hilarious Zombieland. While the first G.I. Joe was a noisy, dizzying explosion festival, Reese and Wernick cropped out some of the needless action and gave their characters personalities and voices.

Captain Duke Hauser (Channing Tatum, Side Effects) still serves as a swashbuckling leader of the G.I. Joes - another one of those highly equipped special tasks forces in movies that survive impossible odds time and time again. Hauser's deputy is nicknamed Roadblock (Johnson, Snitch), the best character name for the former wrestling star yet.

After sabotaging an unexplained secret hideout, Hauser's team is assigned by the President (Jonathan Pryce, Dark Blood)to recover a missile launch pad, an action movie plot device that's as old as the hills. Push the generics aside, and what's left is a group of likeable characters killing bad guys, which is adequate enough for the genre.

After an ambush in the desert, the Joes lose the pad and most of their troops. Stranded and presumed dead, the remaining Joes aim to discover who killed their comrades.

Enter Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee, Masquerade), a vicious samurai henchman of Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey, Monte Carlo), the Joes' main adversary. Also on team Cobra are the mischievous Zartan (Arnold Vosloo, Bones), who clones himself as the president, and an assassin codenamed Firefly (Ray Stevenson, Dexter), who sends tiny robotic fireflies that incinerate on command.

The film's dilemmas derive from its inept ability to juggle all of its subplots confidently. The scenes constantly shift between different characters carrying out different missions until the audience struggles to pursue the complicated story. While the remaining Joes struggle to survive and escape from the desert, Storm Shadow, Zartan and Firefly work to liberate Cobra from a prison.

Simultaneous to this is an epic swordfight on a mountain cliff, which isn't filmed terribly. Snake Eyes (Ray Park, Avarice), a samurai allied to the Joes, scales the mountainside and battles about 20 evil samurai henchmen. The scene looks aesthetically pleasing and grasps the viewer's attention, but distracts the story from its course.

Before long, G.I. Joe: Retaliation diminishes into a parade of prolonged action sequences - obviously expected in a film like this - but there are a few too many that end up tiring the eyes of the audience. After a while, each fight seems to drag on until the attention of the viewer is lost. The choreography and effects are there to sell the stunts, but the film would've benefitted with more setup in between.

Keep in mind this film was produced by Hasbro and it's based off comics and toys, so the target audience is very particular. There's an abundance of oddball humor floating everywhere in Retaliation, which some viewers will admire while some won't.

Most of the dialogue and stunts have been heard and seen before in hundreds of better movies, but this review is constructed to compare this film against its predecessor and other films in the genre. This filmresides somewhere in the ballpark of A Good Day to Die Hard, and compared to that film, Retaliation ranks higher on the totem pole.

Here's a suggestion: Go check out Olympus Has Fallen with Gerard Butler and Morgan Freeman, one of the best action films of the year thus far. Or wait for Retaliation to release on DVD or Netflix and save time, money and energy.



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