G.I. Joe: Retaliation Low on Plot, High on Action
- Thursday, March 28, 2013
DVD Release Date: July 30, 2013
Theatrical Release Date: March 28, 2013
Rating: Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of combat violence and martial arts action throughout, and for brief sensuality and language
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Run Time: 110 minutes
Director: Jon M. Chu
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis
"It’s pretty much lots of fighting and blowing things up occasionally punctuated by brief moments of dialogue," I told a male friend after the screening for G.I. Joe: Retaliation. "That’s pretty much exactly what I want," he replied. So there you go.
Okay, there’s a little more to it than that. The elite fighting force known as the G.I. Joes is basking in the glow of a job well done when disaster strikes. Betrayed and bloody, they have to fight for their lives... and this time it’s not just their old mortal enemy COBRA who’s out to get them. The bad guys’ plan? World domination, of course (or global destruction, whichever comes first). The villains have infiltrated the highest level possible, but to say any more would be a spoiler and there’s not much plot to begin with so I’ll try to keep as much of it a surprise as possible.
So let’s talk about some of the Joes: There’s Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson, Snitch), the tough-on-the-outside/squishy-on-the-inside character Johnson always plays so convincingly. He's a loving dad and loyal friend; if the world was in peril he’s the first guy you’d call. Flint (D.J. Cotrona, Dear John), is the aw-shucks member of the team whose role seems mainly to be the foil for Roadblock and Lady Jaye. He does that well enough, but his character is mostly forgettable. And let’s not forget the girl Joe, Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki, Legion), who can whoop any man who crosses her path and look fabulous doing it. There’s a lot of whooping to be done, too, because as Roadblock eloquently remarks, "World ain’t saving itself," and it’s up to the Joes to put it right. Fortunately, they have Bruce Willis (A Good Day to Die Hard)—I mean, Colonel Joe—on their side. A visit to his house provides some comic relief; you’ll never look at your kitchen the same way.
A shout out is due to Walton Goggins as the warden at the prison where Cobra Commander and friends are held. The warden enjoys his job a little too much, but so does Firefly (Ray Stevenson, The Three Musketeers), the weapons master on Cobra Commander’s payroll who has an arsenal of destructive toys. Ah, it’s "good to know we’re not running low on crazy."
Since the plot is thin it’s a good thing the action is nonstop. It must be said that there is something satisfying about watching an evil character get his rear end kicked. It may be violent, but the fight choreography is impressive. There’s a mountainside ballet of a battle on ziplines that ran a little long but was beautiful to behold, especially in 3D. However, an early firefight was so full of odd angles, flashes of gunfire, and jerky edits it was almost sick-making. On the positive side: this was not cartoon-variety violence. The emotional and physical devastation of fighting, destruction, and loss was given its due. It’s not pretty, but it’s something.
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