If you've ever talked to me you know that the 2009 movie G.I. Joe movie, G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra, is one that really let me down. I went into it thinking it would be a nice action flick, and came out bored and hating what they had done with the characters. Sure the action was alright, over the top and explosive. Just what you'd expect, but it was also a movie that tried to tell and perpetuate a story that it didn't need to. I don't want overly complex and baldy written characters in my action movies. I want a bad-ass that takes down the bad guy in over the top ways and then goes home for dinner. Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, has been on a tear this year, movies and wrestling-wise, and has a couple performances I really like. This also has Channing Tatum always being a solid choice for action, or now-a-days comedy, and arguably the greatest action star of all time in Bruce Willis. This is sure to please right? Right? Well for me it was better than the first, but that doesn't make it good.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation follows the story of G.I. Joe's Roadblock, Flint and Mary Jaye (Dwayne Johnson, DJ Cotrona and Adrianne Palicki) as they hunt down Cobra Commander (Luke Bracely). Before all this happens the Joes are attacked by a military strike where all are killed save for Roadblock, Flint and Mary Jaye, including Duke (Channing Tatum). While all this is going on, Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) and ex-Joe Firefly (Ray Stevenson) are breaking Cobra Commander from a maximum security prison in Germany. The Blind Master (RZA) hears of the breakout and sends Snake Eyes (Ray Park), and Storm Shadow's cousin Jinx (Elodie Yung), to bring him back to their clan for punishment. The three surviving Joe's sneak back into the US, where they are presumed dead, and take up residence in an old, rundown gym. Lady Jaye discovers that the President is being impersonated. Roadblock then leads them to find General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis). He is on the Joe's side and agrees to arm them, quite heavily, and help save the president. Colton snakes Jaye into a formal dinner where the president will be attending and she retrieves and sample. All but confirming that the president is an impostor. Meanwhile Snake Eyes and Jinx have successfully apprehended Storm Shadow, and they join the Joe's to stop this new threat that the world is facing.
Everything about this movie is average. We'll start with the acting, while not bad in the slightest, you can do worse, it was all forgettable. Channing Tatum isn't around for anything past the intro and Bruce Willis doesn't get into this until halfway in. Dwayne Johnson is great throughout and Adrianne Palicki was okay as well. But, Dwayne Johnson needs someone to play off of, and DJ Cotrona isn't going to make him look good in the slightest. Tatum was great in his limited role and I really think he's a hugely underrated actor. While Willis, as great as he is, is pretty bland past the initial scene where his character is introduced. You've gotta give me people to like. When one (of the two) isn't around and the other is bland, I tend to space out and not care about the story. Which leads me right into the characters, which are only alright. Roadblock commands the screen, while Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes provide the more technical of the action sequences. Everybody is tough, big and full of all the unnecessary testosterone, yes even you Lady Jaye, that you'd come to expect going into a G.I. Joe film. No one bad, but it seems like I never really cared for anyone but Roadblock, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Not a good thing when you're trying to get me into an ensemble cast of characters.
Surprisingly the story is fine, though split into three parts to start, it all meshes together well by the time the credits roll. Like I said in my opening paragraph, I hate when action movies try to be more than just action movies. This has a pretty basic plot, good guys are attacked, bad guys are threatened and finally they have to come together to win in the end. It's formulaic, it's campy, it's simple and it worked for a movie like this. The people who see big budget, Michael Bay-esque, explosion movies like these don't go for the story they go for the thrill. But all in all, like the acting, the action was pretty forgettable. Amidst the "WUBWUBWUB" of the blaring music, the action was nothing to write home about. The best scenes were in fact the opening scenes and one in the near the end involving Storm Shadow, Cobra Commander and Zartan (Arnold Vosloo). The rest of mediocre fight scenes involving ninjas. Those almost completely overshadowed any tactical or action stuff that the Joe's were involved in at any point. I wanna be wowed by action when I watch a movie, not be hard-pressed to remember stuff when I want to tell people how I felt about a movie. When the action was good it was admirable, but for me this just didn't come off well at all. The length was fine, but like the first one I felt it was overly long and a lot of things could've been cut. There were a ton of dragging scenes and for an action movie that not good. Also the music was wholly annoying through out, and for me detracted a lot of the time. I like Jay-Z as much as the next guy, but it doesn't mean his music is gonna fit into a given movie.
If you're a fan of the first film, then G.I. Joe: Retaliation is right up you're alley. You're going to love all the characters, the action, though it is lacking, and the story itself. But for me, while this is a vast improvement over G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra, this is riddled with problems that keep it from being a good action flick. The length, music are well, not good. While everything else is pretty average. Everything from the acting to the action, is mediocre and highly forgettable. Dwayne Johnson and a lacking story isn't enough to save this movie. So unless you're a massive fan of G.I. Joe, than I would consider skipping this one.