G. I. Joe: Retaliation (2013), the Empire Strikes Back of G. I. Joe movies
MY CALL: I’d call this a really, really, really great B-action movie. God, I’d love to see the R-rated version of this!!! IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH: Olympus Has Fallen (2013), Die Hard (1988), Taken (2007) and Live Free or Die Hard (2008) all feature some loooong and numerous action sequences.
Let’s start by stating the obvious: the plot is far from credible, basically akin to the simplicity of a cartoon supervillain with an over-the-top plan and he needs to be stopped by the good guys.
Still licking their wounds from the insufferable Rise of Cobra (2009), our super-soldiers led by Captain Duke (Channing Tatum; Side Effects, Magic Mike, The Vow) introduce the pace of this movie with an action sequence against overseas enemies. The down side: after a successful mission the president orders an air strike to kill the whole team and frames them for some pretty serious war crimes, painting them terrorists. They lose a lot of good men. But the best of them, thought to be dead with the others, made it out alive…and something smells fishy!
What’s that smell? Well, it turns out that the president of the United States has been kidnapped by Cobra operatives, with one of them impersonating the president with some sort of nanotechnology that perfectly emulates facial structure and voice. There’s the first heaping spoonful of over the top for us to swallow.
Lady Jaye looking lovely under cover.
Cobra operatives’ next step is to free their imprisoned Cobra Commander, who is in an underground super prison, and then bluff a nuclear coup to disarm the world’s nuclear powers and then threaten the world with a new, special weapon of their own design. Waaaaaaaaay over the top. When you see the world leaders meet to discuss nuclear disarmament it feels like a 12-year old wrote out the drama. But, I guess this movie is for the 12-year olds, too, so I’ll leave it alone.
Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock
Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson; Fast Five, Faster), freerunner Flint (D.J. Cotrona; Dear John), the sultry Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki; Red Dawn, Legion), Snake Eyes (Ray Park; Jinn, The King of Fighters) and Jinx (Elodie Yung; District 13: Ultimatum) face off against Zartan, Cobra Commander, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee; I Saw the Devil, The Good the Bad the Weird) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson; The Three Musketeers, Thor). There’s also a painful ninja clan cameo by rapper-filmmaker Rza, who reprises his woodenly stale performance from The Man with the Iron Fists. Bruce Willis (A Good Day to Die Hard) also joins the Joes.
Byung-hun Lee as the shirtless, rippled, sweaty Storm Shadow. Take it all in, ladies.
The action sequences vary in quality. I found the movie’s opener to be a little weak, but I enjoyed most of them. Later sequences and, especially, the mountain ninja clan battle between Snake Eyes and Jinx and Storm Shadow’s minions was quite good. Likewise, a battle between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow along with Jinx training with Snake Eyes were also cool. Leave it to the ninjas to save the day. But they can’t take all the credit. Flint’s freerunning assaults on Cobra, Roadblock versus Firefly, the Cobra Commander prison break and the big finale offer a lot of entertainment as well.
Snake Eyes and Jinx training
This movie is as entertaining as your ability to check your brain at the door and try to remember the scenarios you were playing out with action figures when you were a kid. All the sudden, “the president needs saving again” starts to feel more natural.