G.I. Joe: Retaliation

G.I. Joe: Retaliation provides all kinds of explosive, semi-coherent, action tropes, but after a very solid first third, loses its way and becomes at times difficult to watch. Nonetheless, the sum of its parts equal an overall fun ride.

Here’s a trailer:

The deets:

Released March 28, 2013

Written by Rhett Reese and Pal Wernick

Directed by Jon M. Chu

Starring Adrianne Palicki, Elodie Yung, Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johson, Jonathan Pryce, Byung-hun Lee, Ray Park, DJ Cotrona, Ray Stevenson, Arnold Vosloo, and RZA

Rated: PG-13

*     *     *     *     *


Roadblock (Johnson) and Duke (Tatum) are the best that US special forces has to offer. They run a team called GI Joes, which is the toy version of Navy Seals. They successfully pull off a rescue operation in the DMZ between North and South Korea and are living high. But soon after, they are betrayed by the US president (Pryce), and most of the Joes are killed.

Now Roadblock, Jaye (Palicki), and Flint (Cotrona) have to find out what is going on that the president would betray them.

Of course, Cobra is to blame, and it is the master of disguise, Zartan (Vosloo), who has done this terrible thing. But there is more to Cobra’s plan: they want to gain power over the entire world. So Firefly (Stevenson) is sent to free Cobra Commander and Storm Shadow (Lee) to bring to pass their nefarious plans for world domination.

Now Roadblock and his team have to recruit some old Joes, including the original Joe (Willis), in order to stop Cobra.

There is a totally forgettable sub-plot regarding Snake Eyes (Park) and Storm Shadow, as well as Jinx (Young), which is shoehorned into the film to make the final scheme come to pass correctly.


G.I. Joe: Retaliation starts very well, with Roadblock and Duke having excellent chemistry and putting an actual human and sympathetic face on the Joes. The dynamics of the team, with Flint being something of a wild card and Jaye being a no-nonsense, seriously kick-butt lady, are nicely displayed.

The problem is that all of this character development flies out the window as the main plot starts to unfold. The movie makers seem to have decided, “Okay, enough development, let’s blow things up.”

There is still some somewhat charming interaction, but the one-liners are a bit too precious– too highlighted by the film (as if the writers wanted to point out that they could writer cool zingers)– to really work without the audience giving an eye roll.

The bad guys, thus, become far more interesting than the good guys. Cobra Commander is fully lame, but Jonathan Pryce is clearly having a great time acting as if he is a disguised Zartan. Plus, Cobra’s plan turns out to be pretty cool. Firefly, as played by Ray Stevenson, is also not bad, although he has all of one level, so he gets boring fast.

All in all, with the writing shining every so often but mostly being formulaic, and the action scenes being rather too-precisely choreographed, G.I. Joe: Retaliation provides some distraction and entertainment, but there’s not much substance to that entertainment.

Content warnings: Plenty of explosive violence, a little salty language

Writing: 3          Acting: 3.5          Overall: 3

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About jared

Jared Garrett works as a writer, the manager of a program development department in the corporate world, and an instructional designer. He is a family man with an adorable, fun, and way-too-smart wife, six silly kids, a new house with an overgrown back yard, seven fish, and a bunch of chickens. He has written fiction, user manuals, SEO copy, radio scripts and textbooks and has won first place in the Mayhew writing contest at BYU and received honorable mention in the Writers of the Future contest. He lives at the foot of the Wasatch Mountains and is currently seeking representation for his myriad completed novels.
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