<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Jon M. Chu. Starring Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, DJ Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Elodie Yung, Bruce Willis, Arnold Vosloo, Walton Goggins
Yes it’s much better than the first one, which probably doesn’t say much but it has plenty of good action sequences, lots of things blowing up and some wry wit. Remember, this is a film based on a cartoon show and you’ll be fine.
Yo Joe! Ah all the lovely cartoon shows and Hasbro toys we used to play with in the 80s. GI Joe, Transformers, MASK, Visionaries, GoBots, Silver Hawks, Thundercats… the memories are endless. Those were some well-made animated shows. And look what Michael Bay went and did with Transformers! Blasphemous bastard. Well okay the last Transformers: Dark of the Moon was pretty good compared to the previous ones. But I can’t forgive these filmmakers for making a mockery of my beloved childhood heroes. GI Joe wasn’t a favourite but I quite enjoyed Cobra Commander’s bumbling ways and the Joe’s awesome armoury.
GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra was an abomination. Didn’t remind me of the TV cartoon show at all. Retaliation on the other hand had Zombieland writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick who, one can surmise, took the trouble to watch the old cartoons. Now for those critics who find it laughable I’d strongly suggest you view the source material first and then realise this is where it all originates. A team of Special Forces commandos called GI Joe who has to save the world from an evil organisation called Cobra.
In Retaliation the President of the United States is being held captive while Zartan, master of disguise, takes his place and concocts a diabolical plan to rescue Cobra Commander (captured in the previous film), kill off the Joes, and force nuclear disarmament upon the world. Hold on a minute, you may say. He wants to get rid of nuclear weapons? That’s a good thing isn’t it? Yes but then there has to be a catch right…
I don’t think it’s much of a spoiler to tell you… (Spoiler Ahead): Channing Tatum as Duke disappears (is her or isn’t he dead?) quite early on in the film. What a relief I say. I couldn’t understand the chap, he was mumbling through the first half hour like he was part of the cast of The Hangover 3!
But Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson as Roadblock, Lee Byung-hun as Storm Shadow, Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and Ray Park as Snake Eyes are entertaining enough so you don’t even remember Tatum was in the film in the first place. Oh and Jonathan Pryce as the Pres is wickedly wonderful. The scene where he’s sitting with the other nuclear powers (yes, including India) getting ready to launch missiles is funny. And that’s the cartoons talking there cause they were pretty maniacal and crazy so it figures that the movie will be too. Special mention to Walton Goggins as a prison warden with loads of attitude and enough boo-ya to be a Joe.
Unfortunately, Bruce Willis as General Joe Colton doesn’t have much to do. Sure you’re happy for his cool company and the filmmakers certainly banked on his star power to pull in the crowds. But he’s pretty much coasting through this one.
The 3D I found especially nice in some scenes: the one with the evil Ninjas chasing Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) on the sides of snow covered mountains as they rappel to and fro (just like in the cartoons) is absolutely stunning.
Oh on a side note: what’s with Hollywood making the new bad guy North Korea in all their films? Remember the thrilling Olympus Has Fallen (read the review here)? GI Joe has taken another page from Olympus – the White House falls to Cobra in this one. Hmm… I hope they’re not tempting fate with all this!
Gee that’s a long review for a GI Joe movie isn’t it? Last word, go watch it if you know what to expect: some cool action, some hammy characters (on purpose) like the Master played by RZA, and some nifty gadgets and attack vehicles; the plot is not really important.