G.I. Joe: Retaliation. (2013). Run time: 110 mins. MPAA: PG-13 (for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language). Starring: D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum, Jonathon Pryce, Byung-hun Lee, Elodie Yung, Ray Stevenson, Adrianne Palicki, with Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Directed by Jon M. Chu.
Yet another Hasbro inspired movie comes our way, and this time it’s in the form of another G.I. Joe movie. Yippy! It can’t be any worse than last year’s Battleship, right? And with talks of a Monopoly film nearing, expectations can only go so low for a sure to be entertaining action movie based on action figures, (although, look at what Michael Bay did to Transformers and is going to do to Ninja Turtles; uh-oh!). Thankfully, after the overly silly and nearly dreadful first installment, director Jon M. Chu finally gives fans what they desire from a movie about the G.I. Joes, which really isn’t saying too much.
In G.I. Joe: Retaliation it’s all about the action. Nothing more, nothing less. But that’s okay. And while I didn’t enjoy this movie as much as the first Transformers film that sparked the franchise that now sits in the bottom of the toilet, I still had a lot of fun with it and it is much, much better than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Why is that? Well, it may be because they decided to throw in Dwayne Johnson (after Snitch he is officially Dwayne Johnson as opposed to his wrestling name “The Rock”) and Bruce Willis. That always seems to make things better. Heck, if Michael Bay decides to direct Transformers 4, he should throw one of those two in there with the rumored-to-be-already-cast Mark Wahlberg. And if the Monopoly rumors are true, somehow cast one of those two as well. I think it’s been proven that whenever a movie series is dying, cast either Willis or Johnson and it will turn it around (see what Johnson did with Fast Five). They were both always entertaining to watch, especially Bruce Willis, just a month after the train wreck that was Die Hard 5. Supporting them was a swift and cool Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow, a nicely fitting Jonathon Pryce as the President, Ray Park as the always hidden yet always moving Snake Eyes, and a fierce and sexy Adrianne Palicki as Jaye, whose looks always outweigh her acting talent, but it’s fine, because… it’s G.I. Joe!
Now Jon M. Chu has some cool camerawork throughout the entirety of this film, including one mesmerizing scene on the side of a mountain, but there are certain times when he overdoes it with the shaky cam and it becomes a distraction. For some reason a lot of action directors seem to think fights and chase scenes are more impacting when filmed with excessive shaky cam (referring to last year’s Taken 2 and the even more dreadful Alex Cross) when in reality action scenes are usually much better when the camera sits still and allows the actors to do the stunt work (see Steven Soderbergh’s Haywire). Still though, most of the fight scenes, save a few, are really fun to watch and filmed with enough balance to at least see what’s going on. One of the most impressive aspects of this silly action flick is the visual effects, and I’m mainly talking about one scene that is unfortunately spoiled in the trailer that shows a city (I won’t spoil which one) getting basically leveled. It is stunning to watch and very well done. On the other hand, once the film resolves, or just moves past that scene, there is not one mention from anyone in regards to clean up or give help and support, which ultimately felt unrealistic, as does most of the events in this ludicrous plot.
FINAL VERDICT: G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn’t a great movie, and it certainly isn’t one to go out to flock and see, although many people will, but it certainly isn’t a bad one either. Director Jon M. Chu directs this movie well for the most part, save a few scenes in which he relies on the shaky cam for the extrusion of the physical emotion. Thankfully though, this is finely acted and action packed ride that never takes itself too seriously and provides a lot of fun for the audience, which is largely due to the inclusion of Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson. (B-)