G.I. Joe: Retaliation Review

Article Header GI Joe Retaliation Movie Review

After much delay the Joes are back to fight for freedom whenever there’s trouble against the evil forces of Cobra in G.I. Joe: Retaliation from Paramount Pictures. Roadblock, Flint, Lady Jaye, and Snake Eyes must stop the evil Cobra Commander in his pursuit of world domination. Is this film based on the popular 80’s Hasbro toy line better than the 2009 original or will fans be as equally disappointed with it as they are with Transformers?


With Cobra Commander and Destro captured and being held in a secret underground prison, the world still remains on high alert waiting for the terrorist organization, Cobra, to strike back in retaliation. Keeping the peace, America’s highly trained military force, codename: G.I. Joe, scours the Earth and eliminates any type of terrorist threat, but they are unaware that their Commander-in-Chief is actually the master of disguise, Zartan, manipulating both the Joes and the world’s governments.

On a routine mission to capture a stolen nuke, Duke and the rest of the Joes come under heavy fire from their own government. It appears that the “President” has blamed the Joes for assassinating another world leader so he had ordered the elimination of G.I. Joe without prejudice. The Joes are wiped out except for Road Block, Flint, Lady Jaye, and Snake Eyes who was far away trying to capture Storm Shadow. Now the new leader of G.I. Joe, Road Block, must try to figure out why they were attacked and rendezvous with Snake Eyes to regroup. Can the Joes survive the Cobra onslaught and stop Cobra Commander from ruling the world?

Jinx, Road Block, Snake Eyes and Flint must team up to stop Cobra


As a kid of the 80’s, I loved running home from school to watch afternoon cartoons. One of my favorites was G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. Some of my favorite storylines were the week long mini-series like the M.A.S.S. Device and the Weather Dominator. Of course the real payoff was the how the show ended with one of the Joes teaching some kid a lesson like not running into the street or playing with fire, because “knowing is half the battle.”

When G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra hit theaters in 2009, audiences were excited to see their favorite characters on the big screen, but let down on the film’s execution. Now while the consensus was that Snake Eyes was really bad ass, the rest of the cast including Marlon Wayans, Channing Tatum and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were goofy and their background stories didn’t make any sense, especially the love story with Duke and the Baroness. So does G.I. Joe Retaliation redeem the franchise? My answer is a hesitant yes. What I mean by that is that Retaliation is indeed a far superior film compared to Rise of Cobra, but I just wasn’t wowed by it. The film isn’t horrible, but it didn’t have that punch and overall fun factor that I felt with Marvel’s The Avengers.

Zartan as the President, Cobra Commander, and Firefly
Zartan (disguised as the President), Cobra Commander, and Firefly

Retaliation is basically a complete reboot with an almost entirely new cast, other than Channing Tatum, but he dies really early in the movie. To me this didn’t make much sense, because from my understanding, the film was supposed to have more Tatum for the ladies to go gaga over since they dropped their panties over his performance in Magic Mike. If the almost year delay of the movie was so audiences could see scenes of Duke and Roadblock play Call of Duty and shoot at a cupcake (I’m not making that up), then I’m quite disappointed that that time could have been spent developing other characters. Now, while these scenes added a bit of comedy to film, they almost felt out of place in the more serious tone of the movie compared to the goofy subplots of the original. In my opinion, Tatum’s silly, almost immature nature never seemed like a proper fit to play the character Duke. Now don’t get me wrong, I loved Tatum in 21 Jump Street, but he just didn’t have that dignity and poise as the leader of the Joes. I think that’s also the problem the first movie had by teaming up Tatum with another silly actor, Marlon Wayans. The moment Duke dies, the comedy ends and the film shifts into a more adult film. If you’re a lady that thinks you are going to get 99 minutes of Magic Mike on screen, you will be sorely disappointed.

This time around Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson leads the Joes as Roadblock. Just like his performance in Fast Five, Johnson seems to be the go to guy to reboot or rejuvenate stale action franchises. I really thought he was perfectly cast. He just has a great tough guy presence on screen. The remaining Joes are Flint played by D.J. Cotrona, Lady Jaye portrayed by Adrianne Paliki and reprising his role of Snake Eyes is Ray Park. Flint I felt was a little under utilized compared to his cartoon counterpart, but I really loved Palicki as Lady Jaye. She was absolutely gorgeous, strong, and confident. (Nerd Fact: Palicki was cast as Wonder Woman in the failed Warner Bros. TV series.) 

Don’t be surprised if wives and girlfriends REALLY want to see G.I. Joe. BTW this is not in the movie.

Also new to the film are characters Jinx (Elodie Yung) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson). Jinx is the cousin of Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and ally to Snake Eyes since all three were trained in the same Japanese dojo. Unfortunately, all the cool karate background story seemed to take a 180 degree turn when the RZA (The Man With the Iron Fists) made a cameo as a blind master. Really? I know RZA loves kung fu and martial arts movies, but why the hell was he even in this movie?

Jinx does add to one of the highlights to the film and that is when she and Snake Eyes capture Storm Shadow and have an absolutely incredible sword fight against a team of red ninjas on the side of a mountain. My favorite character of the whole film was Firefly, the Cobra demolitions expert and saboteur. He had an awesome costume with even cooler gadgets. Speaking of cool costumes, Cobra Commander had a complete makeover. He now has a menacing voice and dons his iconic helmet and uniform. Too bad we don’t see a lot of him on screen.

I had a few problems that I think spoiled the over all feeling of the film. I felt the film had horrible pacing and jumped to too many locations at once.  One moment you are watching a desert battle, the next a battle on the other side of the world, then back to Washington D.C. There is also way too much set up that seemed to be completely rushed in the ultimate anti-climatic finale fight. The film throws in the unnecessary character of General Joe Colton played by Bruce Willis as just a big name to hype the marketing of the film. I was also bored that the major Cobra villain wasn’t Arnold Vosloo as Zartan, but rather himself disguised as Jonathan Pryce being the President. The Cobra plot against the world definitely reminded me of  the cool weapons of mass destruction from the 80’s cartoons, but once that part of the story is revealed, it’s already at the end of the film, which once again is totally rushed.

OK, Joes, we have to come up with a half assed plan to stop Cobras because there's only 15 minutes left in the movie.
Let’s come up with a half assed plan to stop Cobra because there’s only 15 minutes left in the movie.

There were some really cool fights, slick vehicles and fun parts in the movie, but they were not put together cohesively. Some of the scenes felt like a jigsaw puzzle that someone forced the pieces to fit. I would not at all recommend seeing the film in 3D. I didn’t see enough 3D effects to warrant the extra money for a ticket. I can confidently say Retaliation is better than Rise of Cobra, but it’s not going to be the pre-summer blockbuster fans are going to rush to tell their friends to see.  If you are planning on going to theaters, I suggest you see the 2D version at a bargain matinee or just wait for it to hit the home rental market. I really wanted G.I. Joe: Retaliation to be a fun time with bullets and explosions, but instead I left the theater thinking I might have just watched a bomb.

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In Theaters: March 28, 2013
Runtime:  1 hour 39 minutes
Rating: PG-13 (for for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language)
Director: Jon M. Chu
Cast:  D.J. Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, RZA, Elodie Yung
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sequel, Adaptation
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Official Site: http://www.GIJoeMovie.com