Review: G.I. JOE: RETALIATION
Some call G.I. Joe: Retaliation a sequel to the 2009 film, G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra. Some call it reboot altogether. I call it a little bit of both, but its definitely a sequel and should be acknowledged as so.
Retaliation summarizes a little bit of the first movie before entering the new bilateral storyline that reunites actor Channing Tatum as Duke, with the character Snake Eyes, played by Ray Park, along with Byung Hun-Lee, Arnold Vosloo and Jonathan Pryce reprising their roles as Storm Shadow, Zartan and The President. The film introduces the new heroes, Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Flint, Jinx and General Joe Colton, played respectively by Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Adrienne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona, Elodie Yung and Bruce Willis with new villain, ex-Joe Firefly, played by Ray Stevenson, and Luke Bracey providing the costume performance for Cobra Commander, voiced by Robert Baker, entirely replacing Joseph Gordon-Levitt from the first film.
In the new film, the G.I. Joes are summoned to Pakistan to seize nuclear arms as part of the American government's anti-nuclear weapons campaign-a ruse by Cobra villain Zartan, disguised as the President, only to find themselves targeted and disavowed by their own government and framed for treason. Roadblock, Lady Jaye and Flint survive the massacre, and must find a way to infiltrate the President while investigating the truth behind the attack. Meanwhile, Snake Eyes, staying undercover of darkness, witnesses Storm Shadow and Firefly hatch an elaborate plan to break Cobra Commander out of his high-tech maximum security prison in Germany. With the help of lady ninja Jinx, Snake, whose connection with Storm has stood the test of time through their bitter rivalry since the death of the Hard Master, must seize the opportunity to get to the bottom of COBRA's plans with the government, a mission that will forever define his destiny with Storm. Soon enough, the plot thickens as the world's leaders soon begin to witness the horrible truth behind the faux-President's true intentions and its up to the remaining G.I. Joe to stop Cobra Commander and his army once and for all.
If you haven't seen the movie yet, but saw the first film, directed by Stephen Sommers, then you pretty much know how to connect some of the dots. Plenty of positive reviews are pouring in for this movie, and I have to agree. Granted, it bugged me a little that the entire cast from the first film wasn't brought back, as I would have loved to learn how their story would continue into the sequel, especially with Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander. I was even hoping to see Dennis Quaid return as General Hawk, and it also disappointed me that Destro didn't get a full return from the first movie to add to the line-up of villains to expand the odds against the Joes; it would have been interesting to see the heroes tackle so many villains-I guess director Jon M. Chu made a call though, and it was a pretty smart one since not a lot of people prefer to have so many characters in one action film that the story can't keep up. But I guess after things went full circle with Duke and Rex from the first film, the sequel might as well have left that aspect of the story alone for the sake of making the film as much of a "reboot" as possible.
This movie was a better night for me, especially after my sleepover with A Good Day To Die Hard. The action was good and pretty fast-moving, and the stunts were pretty awesome. D.J. Cotrona handled himself pretty darn well in the role of Flint, as you are likely to see him leap large jumps through hails of gunfire and taking out the baddies one by one. I absolutely dug Adrienne Palicki's performance as Lady Jaye, who knows how to handle her share of the big guns-and yes, she wore the hell out of that red dress. Pryce did a great job in his duel role as both the incommunicado president being held captive by Cobra, where you don't really see much of actor Arnold Vosloo, just remnants of him until the end of the film. Martial arts femme fatale Elodie Yung handled herself very well alongside Ray Park, especially having studied Karate for ten years and performed in films such as Sons Of The Wind: Bangkok Ninjas and District 13: Ultimatum. And as always, Dwayne's latest performance as Roadblock continues to demonstrate his seriousness as a versatile actor.
The fight scenes and stunt sequences were exceptional, thanks to fight coordinators Thomas DuPont and Jong Doo-Hong, with some amazing ninja action with Ray Park harnessing his skills as a martial artist for the screen as Snake Eyes along with Byung Hun-Lee as Storm Shadow. Ray Stevenson and Dwayne Johnson threw down pretty hard in their scenes, even including a little gun-fu in their final fight, which was awesome. Bruce Willis also held his own,playing the pivotal role of Joe Colton, the man whose name and legacy inspires everything that the G.I. Joes stand for.
The one real criticism I have: I gotta say I wasn't too fond of the RZA in this movie as the Blind Master. I wanted to like him in this role, as much as I wanted to like him in The Man With The Iron Fists (that film is another subject I will tackle another day maybe), but it just wasn't for him in my honest opinion, so I will leave it at that.
Collectively, there was nothing really cartoonish, unmanageable or immature about this movie. Some films take on cartoon or toy franchises and end up missing the mark, but Retaliation did what needed to be done. Viewers finally get to be engaged as the new battle lines are drawn between the G.I. Joes and Cobra Commander's axis of evil, and granted, hopefully we will get to see a sequel that sees the Commander get his just desserts. After all, yes, franchises are sweet and all, but aren't you tired of the bad guy getting away? I know I am, Lol.
As a little cherry on top, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was my first ever experience with an IMAX 3D feature film. It was pretty much the same experience I had when watching Dredd 3D, but only on a larger screen. Some of the action can move pretty fast from time to time, so I wasn't always comfortable with the 3D glasses. Still, it was a fun spectacle for the film to share, and for all intents and purposes, well worth the extra nine month wait.
So, there it is. My two cents and not much else to say except go see it. It was a fun ride, and again, I hope there is a sequel, so lets make it happen!
Photo Credit: Hisstank