GI Joe: Retaliation

STARRING: Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Jonathan Pryce, Byung-hun Lee,Bruce Willis, DJ Cotrona, Ray Park, Channing Tatum, Ray Stevenson, Elodie Yung, Walton Goggins, Luke Bracey, Joseph Mazzello, RZA, Arnold Vosloo

This is one of those sequels that tries to pretend the first film never really happened. In fact, most of the cast of the original doesn’t return. Nor does anyone seem to know what happened to them. Literally every single GI Joe that fought with Channing Tatum’s Duke is missing. And they made Cobra Commander horribly facially scarred so that they didn’t need to pay Joseph Gordon Levitt to reprise a role where he wears a mask the whole time. This is a new breed of GI Joe, and somehow, it’s actually slightly better.

The film starts off introducing us to the dynamic between our new lead, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) and our old lead Duke (Channing Tatum). They get along like brothers, until an airstrike on Joe HQ kills all of the Joe’s except Roadblock, Lady Jaye (Adrienne Palicki), the useless Flint (DJ Cotrona), and Snake Eyes (Ray Park). Snake Eyes recruits Jinx (Elodie Yung), and Roadblock recruits the original Joe (Bruce Willis). They figure out that the President (Jonathan Pryce) is actually Zartan (Arnold Vosloo). Eventually, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) breaks out Cobra Commander, and the world domination plot resumes.

There are a few small twists in the plot throughout the film, including someone changing sides. I’ll try not to spoil it, and leave the plot to just one paragraph. It’s not a deep film anyway. However, Flint is useless. My hatred for Flint as a character seems to be recognized also by the director, when all the Joe’s are being congratulated individually and Flint just gets a good job. He’s so pointless. He brings nothing to the film or the plot. They killed off Duke for this? Ummm…

Yeah, sorry, Duke dies. It sucks. Snake Eyes is now the only remaining original GI Joe, and since he never takes off his mask, or speaks, he could literally be played by anyone. The special effects are solid, the writing is actually decent, and I didn’t hate it. I would prefer it if the third GI Joe movie included some characters from the second one, and didn’t just reboot itself with every new entry. I think that gimmick can only work once. Jonathan Pryce is really good as a crazy President (trying to pretend he’s Zartan, of course). He hasn’t been featured this heavily in a film in a long time. It’s good to see him working again.

It’s a decent amount of fun, and now that it is on video, you can drop a dollar at Redbox and not feel too bad about overspending. And, truth be told, it is actually better than the first one, and way more fun.


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