Movie Review: “GI Joe: Retaliation” – Retaliate by Retreating

Written by Leo Panasyuk March 31, 2013

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Admittedly, I never saw 2009’s “GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” The entire concept of the film never really struck a chord with me and I let it pass by without so much as a second glance. Now we have, after a 9 month delay (I guess the film became pregnant with 3D) the sequel, “GI Joe: Retaliation.” To be honest, even though I didn’t see the first film, I was actually kind of excited to see this one. The action looked decent and I felt it could be something nice to take my mind off exams. I walked in blind expecting nothing stellar, and that is precisely what I got.

Take the Plot of “The Losers”…

“GI Joe: Retaliation” brings back most of the original cast of characters from the first film including Duke (Channing Tatum) and also introduces newcomer Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) to the GI Joe team. Everything is going well enough for the Joe’s until Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), who is disguised as the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce), orders an attack on the Joe’s, killing all but three of them. The Joe’s, led by Roadblock, set out on a mission to avenge their fallen comrades and stop Zartan’s dastardly plan of global domination/destruction. Fun stuff.

… Mix it with the Action of “Transformers”…

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As previously mentioned, I never saw the first film so a part of me hoped, and expected, to be filled in on what I missed and what the trailers left out, but honestly, all I got was a short blurb about how evil Zartan is and how Cobra Commander and his Cobra unit are equally evil and how badass the Joe’s are. Everything else you would have had to seen the first film or did some research on Wikipedia. The film throws some names at you (Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow, and Firefly, to name a few) and expects you to know who they are but with each new name being tossed out without much of an explanation behind it, I was often left scratching my head in confusion. Granted, the characters do flesh themselves out in the action sequences which really are the cornerstone of this film. The action is fast, frantic and freaking explosive and is enough to keep you excited throughout this overly mundane film.

… Stir in a Script Likely Written by Uncle Sam…

This is about as good as it gets. Seriously.

This is about as good as it gets. Seriously.

The dialogue in this film was forgettable to say the least. Almost every line is so cheesy and corny it becomes cringe-worthy. And when it isn’t cheesy/corny, it’s ridiculously patriotic to the point that it’s laughable. I lost all interest in the plot about halfway through and wondered when things would go boom again. I did, however, like the mysterious character of Snake Eyes (perhaps because he never speaks) because he’s the badass ninja who is the star of the film’s best action set piece. Unfortunately I can’t say the same for Bruce Willis, who comes in three-quarters of the way through the film and is given little to no exposition other than he was the original Joe and that he has a house full of guns.

The film, at times, feels like it was edited quite poorly as certain scenes seem awkwardly placed in relation to the film’s overall pacing. There’s one big scene in particular which occurs during the climax and it is meant to have such an impact but I couldn’t shake the feeling that the scene didn’t belong at that point in the film and that it would have worked much better if it was presented earlier. I guess I should also comment on the 3D but to be honest, there’s not much to comment on as it’s nothing astounding. I did duck, though, when a sword flew at me so I guess it had some effect.

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… And You Have “GI Joe: Retaliation.” Put in Freezer and Never Remove.

I guess I’ve been a little too hard on the Joe’s. While it falters on almost every level, at the end of the day it is what it is. While certain plot points are never fully resolved, the basic plot is easy to follow and pretty much bridges the gap between the numerous action sequences. If all you’re looking for is some cool, explosion-laced action, then I would recommend “GI Joe: Retaliation.” I guess with this out of the way, we’re only that much closer to “Iron Man 3” and “Star Trek: Into Darkness” so the future isn’t all that bleak.

My Rating: 4.5/10

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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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