In 2009, Hasbro and Paramount Pictures combined to bring a live action movie surrounding the popular G.I. Joe action doll to the big screen. The result, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, raked in over $300 million at the worldwide box office despite achieving only a 34% Fresh Approval rating on Rottentomatoes.com and a moderate C+ audience grade via cinescore.
But with a budget of $175 million (and thus a $125+ million profit), the potential franchise film made the studio money so a sequel was inevitable. Welcome to G.I. Joe: Retaliation.
Originally scheduled to be released in 2012 but pushed back so the studio could rework the print and add a third dimension, Retaliation has lead Joes Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona), Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park) up against international enemy Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey), Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and the imposer President of the United States (Jonathon Pryce)¬¬¬.
For those that need a quick refresher from the closing chapters of the 2009’s original – the President has been kidnapped and replaced with an imposter. Meanwhile, Cobra Commander and Destro (both leaders of the organization known as Cobra) have been captured and have been hidden deep inside a fortified bunker.
Retaliation picks up some time after Rise of the Cobra and the Joes, lead by Duke (Channing Tatum), are sent on a mission to which they are double crossed leaving only Roadblock, Flint, Jaye and Snake Eyes as surviving members. Meanwhile, Storm Shadow and Firefly (Ray Stevenson) find a way to release Cobra Commander from his underground cell.
So with the world now thinking the Joes dead, they set out to thwart a plan engineered by Cobra Commander to rid the world of county owned nuclear weapons while utilizing a new satellite weapons system to destroy major cities throughout the globe.
For a movie aimed for the family crowd (it has a PG-13 rating yet millions – yes millions – get killed in what is ultimately a very violent movie), there is a lot going on in Retaliation. The original Joe (played by Bruce Willis) plays a pivotal role, one of the bad guys gets ‘turned’ and not all your favorite characters will make the end credits.
Johnson’s Roadblock does make it through the whole film and he eats up the screen with a charisma that is well suited to the character. His early interactions with Duke provide much of the humor to the film until Pryce’s President chews up every scene he is in showing an evil that would have been appreciated in Tomorrow Never Dies.
Director Jon M. Chu keeps things moving along and incorporates some incredible action sequences (a cliffside battle between Snake Eyes and some Cobra ninja’s highlight the movie), but his inexperience with the genre can be seen in early action scenes that are edited so quickly we can’t tell who is fighting or shooting whom.
There were more than a few head scratching moments embedded in the script, but considering G.I. Joe: Retaliation was not aiming to be the next coming of Inception, we can let them slide.
The sum of the parts is that we were surprised on how much we enjoyed Retaliation. Mindless fun, but considering how much we reviled the original, we were pleasantly surprised that we left the theatre with a belief that we got our monies worth.