Written by: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Ray Stevenson, Adrianne Palicki, and Ray Park
Last Spring, promotions kicked into high gear for the next entry in the G.I. Joe franchise. Most of the trailers depicted a sequel which would pack a harder punch, and having Dwayne Johnson on board brought optimism to this promise. Then, for some odd reason, G.I. Joe: Retaliation delayed for nearly 8 months. News began sprouting about potential reshoots and a lengthy 3D conversion. After a long delay, we finally see why G.I. Joe: Retaliation took so long to reveal itself.
Let me start off by saying G.I. Joe: Retaliation is definitely a fun movie. In fact, in a lot of ways this sequel is a step in the correct direction for the property. G.I. Joe: Retaliation’s largest problem is the G.I. Joe brand itself. Not trying to insult the fanbase, but I’m now convinced there is no way you can make a non-cheesy G.I. Joe film. The villains and characters are too goofy to handle in a serious context. Not saying it’s impossible, but it’s extremely difficult. There are moments in the movie where I felt someone could take the same approach as Bryan Singer did with the original X-Men, but the writing never quite reaches those heights. Why? Well, outside of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, there is only so much depth to acquire from the source material.
The film involves Roadblock (Johnson) who is forced to take a stand with his remaining troop after the Joes are ambushed by their own Government. Realizing they have been framed for crimes against the country, Roadblock and the Joes set out to uncover what is causing the hatred towards them. One thing is for sure. Dwayne Johnson is born to be Roadblock. His humor and action sensibilities fit like a glove for this project. I can’t see anyone carrying the film as well.
The story continues where the last film ended. Cobra has infiltrated The White House with Zartan disguising as the President. Cobra is hoping to cause global chaos in attempt to gain power. G.I. Joes retaliate against Cobra. Pretty simple stuff here folks.
Reese and Wernick managed to create a fun script with a ton of humor. What they forgot though is the character development to go along with the thrills. Not once did I actually feel fear of Cobra Commander. Yes, the movie makes it clear he is the villain but never establishes his character as a credible threat. He looks badass though.
Speaking of looking badass, Snake Eyes was the highlight for me in this movie. I’m not sure if it’s due to Ray Park’s performance or the writing but this character continues being the most interesting of them all. I could watch an entire film solely based on Snake Eyes.
Bruce Willis continues his new method acting approach called “I’m here for the paycheck.” I seriously think this man has stop caring altogether. His presence as General Joe Coulton was so terrible, I actually questioned whether the character should have been in the film at all. One can argue if the General Joe role was given to someone else, then it might have made his existence a cool addition. Sadly, this is a Bruce Willis without any personality.
The action pieces are extremely hit or miss. One moment the film will orchestrate a sequence which blows you away, next moment it feels as if you entered a Michael Bay set. One thing I must admit though, is the cliff battle from the previews is one of the single best action sequences so far this year. Watching this scene alone is worth the price of admission.
This is not a great film by any means. Like I said at the beginning of this review, it’s now clear why the film rescheduled from July of last year to March. If this had released last Summer, the film’s flaws would have stood out more in the wake of The Avengers and Dark Knight Rises. Now, there isn’t much competition to make it look bad. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the sexiest individual in the room for now, but for how long? As long as the viewer understands what they are paying for, then go for it. There is certainly worse ways to spend your money.