I didn’t grow up playing with the toys, watching the cartoon, or doing whatever else G.I. Joe fans do. My first G.I. Joe “experience” was G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in 2009. I thought it was a decent film at the time and didn’t understand all the hatred toward it (I actually ended up seeing it twice when a couple of friends asked me to go). After seeing the film for the third time last night, I understand the hate. The Rise of Cobra sucks. I wanted to punch every character, plug my ears during the dialogue-only scenes, and forget the whole movie in general. Besides some decent action scenes, The Rise of Cobra is a terrible film.
Behind the scenes, everything about the sequel, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, screams failure. The director, Jon Chu, has directed three other films. Those three films are Step Up 2 the Streets, Step Up 3D, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never. I don’t know what they were thinking when choosing a director for the next G.I. Joe movie, but they thought he would be a good pick. Also, the writers of Zombieland (Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) were picked to pen the script. Zombieland is awesome but can these guys write a straight-up action movie? Finally, it’s also a sequel to G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, which is reason enough to worry. We do have Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis on camera so there is a possible light at the end of this dark depressing tunnel. In the end, G.I. Joe: Retaliation proves to be a fun action movie but nothing more than that.
In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the G.I. Joes are framed for stealing nukes by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) who is impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). The G.I. Joe camp is hit in a military strike with Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Connors), and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palickli) forced to be on their own with only their skills to protect them. With Cobra Commander free once again and their own government against them, it’s up to our three heroes to set things right.
Even though Retaliation follows a cliché and predictable formula, the story in the movie is exactly what it needs to be. It needs to bring our heroes into dangerous territory with lots of action which it did perfectly. Unfortunately, the story is the only commendable part of the screenplay. The dialogue in this movie is pretty poor. It’s not as horrendous as the first one but I still found myself laughing at some of the dialogue (and not in a good way). You might not care as the main purpose of this movie is to be a fun action movie, but you will when you’re sitting through the dialogue-heavy scenes.
The screenplay wouldn’t matter if the action was great and thankfully, it is. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a lot of fun. It might not be the greatest action movie of all time but you’ll be entertained watching explosion after explosion and bullets flying in 3D. The movie is about 75% action which benefits the movie as the screenplay is poor. It’s mindless action at its best and should be fun for bored movie audiences and kids. The only issue with some of the action scenes is the editing. You know the shower scene in Psycho and how it constantly cuts to different shots over and over again. Action Movie Rule #1: Don’t do that.
One thing that is tremendously better than Rise of Cobra is the characters. I actually liked some of the characters this time around. The Rock and Bruce Willis are great action stars and their presence alone makes them enjoyable to watch. Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes are badass and they’ll always be a pleasure to see and even characters like Flint and Lady Jaye were suitable for the film.
The biggest surprise of Retaliation was the 3D. The movie was delayed from June of 2012 to March of 2013 with one of the reasons being to convert the film into 3D. I expected crap and while the 3D wasn’t spectacular by any stretch of the imagination, it is much better than I thought it would be. If you could, see the movie in IMAX 3D for the best experience but it’s not worth driving a good distance to get to it.
Compared to Rise of Cobra, Retaliation is a masterpiece. Compared to the 1,776 action movies that have come out in the past few months, Retaliation is one of the best. Compared to action movies in general, Retaliation is a good time. It’s a lot of fun even with the crappy screenplay. If you’re looking for a good popcorn movie, then Retaliation is the one to see.
For reviews and more from Petey Oneto, you can check out his blog or check back with Resident Entertainment for more of his posts in the future.