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Title :G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
Release : 15 April 2013
Director: Jon M. Chu
Writers:Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
Runtime: 1h 50min
Genre : Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
Stars : Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Adrianne Palicki
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G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) trailer
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) review
In G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the Joes are no more. The entire squad and their leader were wiped out in a double-cross by Zartan, the Cobra lieutenant who has impersonated the president of the United States and is working from within the government to free Cobra Commander. The remaining Joes, led by Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), are forced to take on a government that no longer trusts them and rescue the entire world from the brink of nuclear war.
You almost have to feel sorry for way the cards were stacked against G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The first film in the series, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, limped out of theaters as a critical failure, and many fans would have preferred to see the franchise die an ignominious death without any additional entries. Furthermore, Retaliation suffered from several delays in its production schedule, delays that allegedly arose regarding complications in the use of Channing Tatum’s character, Duke. This meant that the only actors who would reprise their roles in the second film would be Jonathan Pryce as the president of the United States, Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, and the silent and faceless presence of Ray Park as Snake Eyes. Throw in a few quick scenes with Arnold Vosloo as Zartan and you had perhaps the most underwhelming core of franchise talent in summer blockbuster history.
In fact, with so much working against the film, Retaliation missed an opportunity to embrace its own doomed status and shoot for something different. There is a film lurking beneath the surface of Retaliation that is self-aware and campy, a movie that does not take itself too seriously and provides its actors with an opportunity to cut loose and have a good time. One of the mistakes that the original G.I. Joe made was in riding the current trend of superhero adaptations and giving its characters a modern, gritty origin story. This may work for comic book characters like Spider-Man and Batman—characters who have decades of development and multiple iterations to choose from—but the characters who populate the G.I. Joe universe are sorely lacking in the gravitas required to pull off this kind of adaptation.
As in all things, a movie should identify its strengths and build around them. What did G.I. Joe: Retaliation have to offer audiences that made its creation worthy? First and foremost, the movie continues Dwayne Johnson’s quest to throw down against every Hollywood tough guy. The fight scenes between Johnson and a delightfully Southern Ray Stevenson (as Firefly) are almost worth the price of admission, and Stevenson seems to be having the time of his life as the drawling pyromaniac. These scenes are a nice complement to the campy performance of Jonathan Pryce, who swaggers his way through the movie, spitting out memorable lines such as, “Oh yeah. I pressed it.” All of this pales in comparison to Walton Goggins’s brief turn as the head of the G.I. Joe maximum-security penitentiary. There is something to be said for the chance to watch actors have fun on screen. Their enthusiasm is contagious, and Retaliation is at its best when Stevenson, Pryce, and Goggins are allowed to do a little old-fashioned scenery chewing.
It is obvious that these three actors were on the same page regarding the reverence of the material. However, these scenes account for only a small part of the film, and the rest of the movie unfortunately attempts to tell an earnest, action-packed story that is hardly worth the price of admission. The action-packed parts of Retaliation are shot well enough, and the movie does its best to provide emotional stakes in the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow, but it simply fails to move the needle. Any random member of the movie’s audience has seen dozens of action films that are just as good as Retaliation and likely dozens more that are better. There is no greater shame than a well-cast action film that ends up being utterly forgettable.
Will there be more G.I. Joe movies? It seems very likely. As many film critics have noted, Dwayne Johnson is a living, breathing action figure, and his presence will go a long way toward the success of the new franchise. I only hope that whoever directs the next movie will remember to keep his or her tongue firmly planted in cheek and bring a sense of humor to the ridiculous excess-fest that these films should be. Shoot for a tone somewhere along the lines of Neil Marshall and you’ll be off to a good start.
And find yourself another muscled actor for Dwayne Johnson to beat up. It is, after all, the only reason any of us bothered with this film in the first place.