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What is GI Joe: Retaliation?

THE JOES ARE BACK and they’ve been set up to take the fall for a heinous crime they didn’t commit. When all else fails, one option remains: Retaliation. Roadblock leads a new team on this high-octane adventure.

Review

Oh God, this movie is terrible.

It’s fun but it’s terrible.

There are so many weird and inexplicable decisions throughout this film. The cast is fine, better than fine, I’d argue, but what they’re working for is a train wreck. I was somewhat hard on GI JOE: THE RISE OF COBRA but I felt that it was a movie with a lot of potential. It certainly set up the sequel pretty well with the character relationships and world-building off to a good start. Unfortunately, the sequel throws all of this out the window and the result is a mess that none of the cast can save.

Part of this wasn’t the fault of the writers, directors, or producers. Virtually, the entirety of the cast from The Rise of Cobra didn’t elect to return to the sequel. Channing Tatum would only return if they killed off his character, Duke, who was the star of the previous movie. Christopher Eccelston said filming the first movie was like having his throat cut.

Sienna Miller, one of the most popular parts of the film for multiple reasons (including fanservice), also felt she was a horrible fit for the Baroness. Not even Gordon Joseph Levitt returned as Cobra Commander because he was filming Inception. Given so much of the previous movie was setting up the complicated dynamics between all four of these characters, it effectively meant you’d need a total recast or to throw out nearly everything. They chose the latter. Honestly, it probably would have been better to do a total reboot if they hadn’t done a recast because the plot barely makes any sense and when it does tie-in, it makes you upset about what’s done.

The premise is that GI Joe has gone from being an international team of heroes to an American group of special forces doing missions in places like North Korea as well as Afghanistan. Duke (Channing Tatum) is now the leader but his second-in-command is Roadblock (The Rock), which already raises questions because Dwayne Johnson is about eight years older than Channing Tatum so why is he his subordinate?

The President of the United States has been replaced by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) but, sadly, it’s Jonathan Pryce on screen for the most part. Which is fine but he’s not exactly projecting menace and I’d prefer Arnold. With Zartan’s help, Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) rescues Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey, Robert Bakker) and frames the Joes for terrorism, so they’re wiped out by a group of Cobra soldiers pretending to be a new group of American soldiers. The Joes go out to clear their names and, well, screw up.

The thing is, this is actually a fairly decent premise. Adrianne Palicki is also a great recast for Scarlet and…oh, she’s playing Lady Jaye. Just playing her exactly like Scarlet. Okay then. We also have Jinx (Daredevil’s Elodie Yung) introduced and the Blind Master (played by RZA), which odd choice in casting aside, sets up a nice ninja arc where Snake Eyes (Ray Park) goes after Storm Shadow to continue their eternal blood feud. If the movie had kept to this premise then it would have been a pretty serviceable flick.

I’d miss Destro and the Baroness but it would have been a good story salvaged from bad circumstances. It’s not a spoiler since it’s in the trailer but there’s an utterly insane and stupid plot about nuclear weapons where Cobra ends up getting rid of all of them before destroying London. Yes, London. The Joes fail to save one of the world’s most populous cities and ten million people die. That’s not exactly a great premise for future movies in the franchise nor does it really reflect well on our heroes who utterly fail to save the day. There’s some good scenes but our heroes kind of get their efforts dwarfed by this.

Yeah, this movie sadly killed the GI Joe franchise for awhile when it could have been every bit as successful as the Transformers one if not more so. It’s not hard to do GI Joe as you can do it either like Call of Duty or something much-much sillier. The Fast and the Furious movies basically became the GI Joe movies at one point. Do that. The franchise has since been rebooted with Snake Eyes: Origins but it’s been left on the table since. Which is a shame.

Available here

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