G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
Release Date: March 28th, 2013 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Director: Jon M. Chu Actors: Dwayne Johnson, Jonathan Pryce, Byung-hun Lee, Elodie Yung, Ray Stevenson, D.J. Cotrona, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum, Ray Park
he original G.I. Joes were mostly grounded in reality. Choice soldiers, certainly, but possessing no super powers and utilizing semi-futuristic equipment limited to weaponry and vehicles, the Joes relied on well-planned ops and the indestructible nature of heroes to accomplish their missions. In the transition to film, these soldiers have acquired even more outlandish gadgets, including nano-robot technology (of which there are perhaps no limitations), Transformer-esque motorcycles, and even guided bullets, which aren’t necessarily required for the subsequent superhuman feats witnessed in the film. Surprisingly, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is less preposterous than its predecessor, but also less fun. The attempted grandeur of the predecessor is replaced by an unrelenting push for unconvincing valor and testosterone-fueled action. Despite the familiar names of Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, Roadblock and Cobra Commander, “Retaliation” feels neither nostalgic nor new.
When the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce) is kidnapped and replaced by Cobra imposter Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), the scheming impersonator frames the gilt-edged soldiers of G.I. Joe for treason – and orders their elimination. Only Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona), and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) survive the ambush in the middle of the desert. With the aid of ninjas Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung), plus a few unexpected faces from the past, the determined warriors must prepare for their most important mission yet. Discovering Zartan’s nefarious plot to free the imprisoned Cobra Commander, the Joes must rescue the President, clear their names, and stop the two madmen from enslaving the world.
G.I. Joe has pre-existing origins and a rather vast, interesting mythos, heavily steeped in the unending conflict of patriotic elite special forces combating unaffiliated terrorists. The Hasbro brand doll’s infiltration into comics and Saturday morning cartoons helped embellish the back stories of hundreds of toy soldiers, all of which contained brief histories of their skills, services, and introductions to the G.I. Joe universe, summed up on cards printed on the backs of the packages in which the figurines were housed. Sadly, the “code name” that each trooper was given is about the only thing that remains in the big screen adaptations; this sequel amusingly includes several more discernible recruit monikers, only to transform them into unrecognizable superheroes consumed in science-fiction nonsense (the nanomite technology, capable of doing just about anything via robotic bugs, is easily one of the most absurd inventions of any movie in the last decade). In this new, foreign Joe world, even the code names sound silly.
Tying in nuclear threats (turned into one of the funniest, most uncharacteristic gags), presidents, governments, satellites, and other more practical notions of topnotch servicemen engaging in covert operations goes against the over-the-top, exhaustingly overdone subplots and action sequences. Every time a believable element is presented, several more outrageous ones assault the senses. Bullet-dodging, an “Equilibrium” gun kata ripoff, swordfights between ninjas dangling from mountainsides, and the overbearing machismo of abundant physical violence having little consequence on the human body. There are also the expected but unreasonable posing for the camera, acrobatics and flamboyant movements for the sake of frames to be lingered on, catch phrases, and a general cockiness that takes viewers out of the sense of danger. It’s all aided by electric guitars and nonstop explosions or firefights that won’t even let the poor Joes sit down for a meal – although the solitary scene of momentary downtime does allow Jaye to slowly slip out of her dress while Flint sneaks a peek.
– The Massie Twins