G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Go Joe or... go home?

It's another splendid August day, and time for more movies of questionable quality, value, or cultural significance. In the wake of a battery of really negative reviews for Kick-Ass 2 I am dragging my feet to go out and see it, and so now instead have started chipping away at my block of "movies I downloaded that have The Rock in them". Today I'm going to be talking about G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the sequel to 2009's Rise of Cobra. The first movie was... certainly a movie with characters in it. It had Marlon Wayans in it so you can probably use your own discretion there to deduce the overall quality of the film. It also had Channing Tatum, an actor who I find is actually pretty good at being a funny sort of meat head in films (see my review of 21 Jump Street). Here he was leading man/ new G.I. Joe Duke. Inexplicably it had Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Cobra Commander, and that was sort of difficult to wrap my head around but hey there it is. Together under the command of Dennis Quaid these characters stopped Destro and "The Doctor" (soon to be Cobra Commander) from using nano-machines to take over the world (yes this is G.I. Joe so the bad guys want to take over the world obviously).

He's bald and he means business.
Retaliation takes a slightly different approach to the same idea, and swaps out the majority of the cast. In general it has a much smaller cast actually. Technically speaking Channing Tatum is in the movie, but spoilers he gets blown up about 15 minutes in after we establish that he's a cool leader and general good guy, and that he is super besties with Roadblock (that's The Rock). After Duke and most all the Joes get blown straight to hell in the middle of the desert, it's up to Roadblock, along with Flint, Lady Jaye Snake Eyes and Jinx to stop Cobra's most recent bid for world domination, which involves tricking the nuclear powers of the world into disarming themselves, so they can all be held hostage by Cobra's new super-weapon (which you have to admit certainly sounds like an episode of G.I. Joe). They're able to do this thanks to their infiltrated agent Zartan, who is disguised as the U.S. President via the use of those tricky nano-machines that melted the Eiffel Tower in the first movie (well we can assume these nanomites have different programming than those ones). Other notables among the bad guys are Firefly, who is a psycho-murderer/pyromaniac, and Storm Shadow, who naturally changes sides later because that's what Storm Shadow does.

Bruce Willis disdains the aid of women in this film.
Well that's all well and good... I guess, but also Bruce Willis is a sort of misogynist retired soldier, the "Original" G.I. Joe, and he comes out of retirement to kill people. This is so the movie can satisfy the "Bruce Willis must appear at least briefly in this action film" criterion. Despite his prominent placement in the credits and promotional material, Bruce Willis doesn't actually crop up all that much in this movie. I'd say maybe a total of 20 minutes, mostly towards the climax of the film? They just sort of tap him in when shit starts to get real.

The Rock has one of these in real life. Seriously.
While this movie is a competent action movie for most of its run time (and I suppose that's more than I could reasonably expect from a G.I. Joe sequel movie) I feel like it could have really been a more entertaining movie if it hadn't killed off the elements that were most entertaining at the very beginning of the movie. Channing Tatum and The Rock had an amusing buddy banter thing going on, and I think that it would've been a better decision to play the whole movie light rather than trying to go for grim and serious. At the end of the day, we're talking about characters that were used as a means of selling action figures, so trying to be deadly dark maybe isn't the best way to run the show, especially with RZA as some sort of blind ninja master (every scene with him in it is roughly three letter grades lower than the rest of the film). He should have been silent, Like Ray "Darth Maul" Park as Snake Eyes.

Cobra Commander, being all commandery.
Despite being a generally so-so action movie, this movie grossed around 371 million dollars, thanks in no small part to the international popularity of South Korean actor Byung-hun Lee. The 249 million in international sales helped the movie recoup its considerable 130 million dollar budget.

That's all for today! I now am out of buffer movies to keep me from the theater, meaning I have to face the possibility of a truly shitty Kick-Ass 2. I'll see you all later!

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