G.I.JOE: Retaliation film review
By Wilson Morales
When ‘G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra’ came out four years ago, the action adventurous film was met with mixed criticism. While some audiences, who had waited a long time for the Hasbro figure dolls to be brought to the big screen, loved every minute of seeing their favorite characters in action, there were those who felt the film was too much tongue and cheek, chaotic and inept. Since the film made over $300 million dollars overall, a sequel was inevitable. After its initial 2012 release was delayed, G.I Joe: Retaliation finally makes it to the screen.
The longevity has been helpful because lots of changes were made that makes ‘Retaliation’ an improvement over its predecessor. With the exception of Channing Tatum as Captain Duke Hauser, Ray Park as Snake Eyes, Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, Jonathan Pryce as the U.S. President, and Arnold Vosloo as Zartan, new director John Chu has brought in a new cast and characters. ‘Retaliation’ delivers with a better storyline that brings back the essence of what true fans remember. Despite some flaws, the film still has enough spark and action sequences to entertain audiences.
Coming off the last film, the master-of-disguises Zartan has taken over the United States posing as the President. The real President is still alive and being held captive nearby to extract information. Meanwhile, the Joes are now headed by Duke, and along with him are Roadblock as his second-in-command, Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), Flint (newcomer D.J. Cotrona), Mouse (Joseph Mazzello) and other Joes. While coming back from a mission in Korea, the team is suddenly attacked in Pakistan, leaving most of them left for dead. Turns out it was the President (Zartan) who called the hit and left the Joes to be discredited as traitors of their country.
Through the help of Storm Shadow and Firefly (Ray Stevenson), Cobra Commander is now free to pick up where he last off and make stronger efforts to rule the world. With a small amount of personnel left among them to continue the fight, the Joes help recruit some old and new members. Facing an uphill battle, the Joes are up against time to stop Cobra Commander from completing his quest for world domination.
What works in ‘Retaliation’ is how grounded the film is compared to the over-the-top sequences ‘Rise of the Cobra’ had. To some, those flashy gadgets and water scenes were eye-popping, but this film is better directed and geared towards the fans who really know the Joes from the ‘80’s cartoon and comics. Having less characters makes it easier for the main story to be told rather than spending time introducing and developing characters.
At the same time, one of the weak points of the film was casting The Rza as the Blind Master. It’s cringing to see him in that role. To audiences, it may seem amusing as he speaks, but the scene is actually not meant to be that way. While fans love to see Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow mixing it up with their martial arts/ sword fight, Adrianne Palicki stands out as Lady Jaye, as well Ray Stevenson as Firefly. She’s more effective than Rachel Nichols’ Scarlet. While this is not about comparing this cast of Joes to the ones from ‘Rise of the Cobra,’ the writing by Rhett Reiss and Paul Wernick gives the actor better materials to work with. Willis is also a welcome addition but at times he appears lost as if he’s coming in from another film.
The humor presented by Tatum, Johnson, and Walton Goggins gives the film some balance before the action kicks in. In fact, every dying franchise should bring in Dwayne Johnson as their fixer. Previously known as The Rock, Johnson is becoming the Heather Locklear of films, especially after he helped resurrect the Fast and Furious franchise in Fast Five.
The post conversion 3D doesn’t really add any flavor to the film unless you go see it at IMAX, and even then, seeing it in 2D gives the same effects. You want to be entertained and G.I.JOE: Retaliation delivers for most of the ride.