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G.I. Joe: Retaliation

2013 | 110 min | PG-13 | 2.39:1

G.I. Joe: Retaliation


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 28 March, 2013
 27 March, 2013

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (converted)

Box office




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G.I. Joe: Retaliation


Screenshots from G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D Blu-ray

G.I. Joe: Retaliation Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 28, 2013

In 2009, director Stephen Sommers brought “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra” to multiplexes, tasked with turning the popular cartoon series and toy line from the 1980s into a viable franchise for a new generation. He failed miserably, masterminding a leaden, nitwit film that actively ignored what made the original creation such a delight to a generation of kids. Rewarded with lackluster but passable box office returns, a sequel was ordered up. Now we have “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” from helmer John M. Chu, and while there was an enormous opportunity to course-correct the series, the follow-up is essentially more of the same nondescript action and unappealing characterizations as before. Although some baby steps are made to please the hardcore fan base, “Retaliation” doesn’t show the level of production bravery required to make this brand name mean something on the big screen.

After the nanomite disaster that nearly destroyed the world, the G.I. Joe team, lead by Duke (Channing Tatum), is sent out to thwart a nuclear disaster brewing in the Middle East. With Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and Flint (a bland D.J. Cotrona) assisting the mission, the Joes manage to save the day, only to be betrayed by the President (Jonathan Pryce), who’s being manipulated by the master of disguise, Zartan (Arnold Vosloo in a silent cameo). After Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson) mastermind a plan to break Cobra Commander (voiced by Robert Baker) out of his aquatic prison, Zartan moves to rid the world of nuclear missiles, using a satellite super weapon to hold Earth hostage as terrorist force COBRA takes control of America. The lone survivors of the desert attack, Roadblock, Lady Jaye, and Flint return home to regroup and devise a plan of revenge, calling in Colton (a sleepy Bruce Willis), an original Joe, for help.

We were supposed to see “Retaliation” last June. Paramount Pictures decided to call off the release of the summer blockbuster one month before its due date, pushing the movie to 2013 for a 3D makeover and, if you trust the rumor mill, a chance to beef up Tatum’s brief cameo. Now a spring fling with an extra dimension (and yes, a little more Duke, though awkward doesn’t even begin to describe the additional material), the heroes of G.I. Joe are back to combat COBRA’s plan of world domination, and Chu seems perfectly eager to follow through on promise of a leaner, more colorful sequel. However, once the opening of the feature reminds the audience of the nanomite havoc from the 2009 film, it becomes increasingly clear that “Retaliation” is a slouchy sequel after all, and not a gentle but purposeful redirection to a cinematic effort more in line with the original Hasbro toy experience.

The world of “G.I. Joe” is teeming with wild personalities, striking costumes, and fist-shaking elements of warfare between broadly imagined forces of good and evil. “Retaliation” is a weirdly small-scale production that takes place in desert landscapes and shallow sets, with copious amounts of CGI employed to give the feature visual muscle beyond Chu’s limited field of vision. While it’s nice to have Cobra Commander looking a little more true to his original design, the rest of the cast is trapped in fatigues or, in the case of Lady Jaye, various states of undress so the male audience is allowed time to ogle before returning to the mayhem. Instead of leaning into the natural spectacle of the toy line, Chu takes the Sommers route and flattens the identity of the effort, making the extraordinary look and sound ordinary, like any action picture of the last decade. Even the set-pieces, including a showdown between Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) and a squad of howling ninja (battling on wires off the side of a mountain), are missing inspiration, boiled down to routine acts of infiltration and escape.

While we’re discussing Snake Eyes, “Retaliation” has a special interest in the lives of the ninja characters, with the helmeted one, Storm Shadow, and Jinx gifted an extensive subplot that burrows into their shared history with a fallen master. The detour is all well and good until rapper RZA shows up in ridiculous make-up as Blind Master, mumbling Zen wisdom in the film’s worst performance. While Roadblock appears to be the main character for this outing, the beefy maestro of heavy weaponry isn’t utilized to his full potential, pushed into the background so the script can work out its tepid ninja melodrama. The same sense of disregard follows Cobra Commander, who, for a second movie, isn’t even the real villain of the piece, finding more screen time spent on Zartan’s Presidential puppetry. I’m baffled as to why the producers see no value in promoting the mirror-masked monster to a full-time antagonist.

Chu is determined to make things go boom, issuing the destruction of London in the grand finale -- a seismic world event involving the senseless murder of millions, and nobody seems to care about it. He parades around war machines that vaguely recall plastic playtimes of old and cranks up the faux rock to underscore a gun selection montage (Colton’s password to his nest of weaponry is “1776”), keeping the testosterone flowing without ever providing a scene that genuinely rouses the senses. “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” has the muscle and the hindsight to make a wonderful PG-13 racket with its vivid source material, but Chu would rather drain the film of color, downplay his only real moviemaking asset, and yes, bring back the dopey nanomite menace. This is not progress.

Starring: Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Stevenson, Joseph Mazzello
Director: Jon M. Chu

» See full cast & crew

G.I. Joe: Retaliation, Forum Discussions

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G.I. Joe: Retaliation 1240 Aug 10, 2013

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