G.I. Joe: Retaliation Review

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Usually with movie sequels, one needs to watch the first film to understand the story so far and understand the progression into future films. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is not one of those movies. G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn’t a lot of things actually, but is it at least worth watching?

Well, no. Not really.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. A lot of it feels like a sequel only in name, for about 90% of the characters from the original don’t even appear. Those who do appear for the most part are the villains, and even then half of them are played by different actors or have minimal screen time.

The film leads on from the events of the first film, leaning on one of the few tenuous ties that involved the villainous Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) infiltrating the White House under the guise of the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). With the actual President imprisoned, Zartan looks to frame the G.I. Joes as traitors, use the position of power he has to free Cobra Commander (Robert Baker) and build towards having the world leaders under their grasp.

GI Joe Retaliation (Dwayne Johnson)The G.I. Joe team includes newcomers to the franchise Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D. J. Catrona), and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki). After the entire team is ambushed and almost completely massacred, it is up to the trio to find the help of original G.I. Joe General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis) and find a way to take down Zartan, Cobra Commander, and the rest of Cobra before they can take over the world.

For what it’s worth, Dwayne Johnson brings his usual effective charisma to the table. Jonathan Pryce also makes for a passable antagonist, playing against himself, effectively, taunting the real President of the United States while disguised as Zartan. The sub-plot that involves G.I. Joe Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and rival ninja Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) is also pretty well done, but other than that, the film is pretty much skippable.

It seems like a cheap shot criticising a narrative of which the basis is mainly formed from the G.I. Joe toy franchise. The same can be said for movies such as Transformers, but G.I. Joe: Retaliation feels especially lacking. Even if the flick is a glorified kids film, there could have been so much more. That is also without even mentioning that Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick wrote the screenplay. It just feels as though it could have been so much more exciting and entertaining than what it actually was. 

Some of the lines do fall flat, and there are so many clichés the film falls into. It’s not entirely bad, but it’s not entirely good either. It all just feels mediocre. Nothing changed after watching it. No worlds were rocked and no minds were blown. It was an action film that didn’t inspire any real feeling or reaction. Which really says a lot for the genre.

Moments where the action was very strong were too few and far between. One of the best sequences is right at the beginning with the G.I. Joes going through a mission, and there’s another high-flying sequence set in Japan, but even then it just felt like it was missing something.

GI Joe Retaliation (Jonathan Pryce)G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was a silly, fun movie. It could be seen to some as a guilty pleasure, and it was one that gathered together an admittedly impressive cast. While it wasn’t memorable, it had something going for it.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation on the other hand is just a blip on the radar. A rather unremarkable sequel that held no appreciation for continuity with little to praise. Dwayne Johnson continues to be the best thing in the projects he works on, Jonathan Pryce holds his own, and once again audiences will see that everything is better with ninjas. 

Other than that though, there really isn’t anything to say about the film. It’s a pit stop on the road towards more impressive movies. If you have a couple of hours to kill as you go on with life, then sit down and watch this time sink. You’ll leave the way you came in: Bored, looking for some entertainment.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is out now. It stars Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona and Adrianne Palicki. Jon M. Chu directs from a screenplay written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick.

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