When I first heard that Jon M. Chu would be directing the sequel to G.I. Joe The Rise of Cobra, I was less than optimistic as to its possible success. Then I heard that Bruce Willis would also have a role in the movie and I got even more disheartened. I mean I like Bruce Willis, his movies are okay…they use to be better but I loved him in Red. Even though he was playing a classic G.I. Joe character, I had my doubts.
I have to say that after seeing the film, I am eating a small amount of crow. That’s not to say that this film isn’t without its problems, they are just less noticeable and more easy to forgive. It’s clear that Chu and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick actually watched some of the 80s G.I. Joe cartoon episodes and managed to capture a little bit of the magic of the series.
One of the things I liked most about this film is that they washed away most of the things from the first film that didn’t work and kept most of the things that did. They ignored elements that made the first film less plausible. Another thing that made this film work were the action scenes. Less sci-fi and more shoot-em-up was the order of the day and helped make this film worthwhile.
We’ve got a new team of Joes this time with only Duke (Channing Tatum) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park) returning. Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson aka. The Rock), Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) are the new Joes on the block with the addition of Jinx (Elodie Yung) who just happens to be Storm Shadow’s (Byung-hun Lee) cousin. This new team is a lot more badass then what we were given in the first film and rely on their brains and guns more than fancy sci-fi gadgets and super suits.
Cobra is less diverse than the Joes but are more menacing this time around. Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) looks like the character from the cartoons and is a much more serious threat. Even though we get to see Destro for a brief time, he gets thrown out of the band and left for dead when Firefly (Ray Stevenson) breaks Cobra Commander out of prison. Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) is still impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce) and is making life very difficult for G.I. Joe.
A lot of elements from the 80s cartoon are present in this film that make it a treat for fans. For the uninitiated, there is not a lot to catch up on even if you didn’t see the first movie. We even get to see the classic H.I.S.S. tanks and a few other vehicles that are reminiscent of the cartoon. I even expected to hear the “Yo Joe” and “Cobra” battle cries at some point. I am not ashamed to admit that they would have been appropriate and welcomed.
G.I. Joe Retaliation is far from a perfect film, but it does succeed in topping the original is almost every way. For those who would try to nitpick it to pieces need to remember that it is a movie based on a cartoon series based on a toy line. You can only go so far with it and expect anything reasonably close to a good movie. It’s fun to watch and you’ll leave the theater feeling entertained. It does its job as a good start to the summer blockbuster season.
The Nerd gives G.I. Joe Retaliation a 3 out of 5. Yo Joe!!!!