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Film Review: “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”

Written by: josh | March 29th, 2013

   G.I. Joe: Retaliation was supposed to be released last summer.  Shortly before its release, however, the studio decided to have the film undergo re-writes, re-shoots, and a 3D conversion.  Was it worth it?  Well I didn’t see the film in 3D but I can tell you that two of those things were not worth it.  I’m not sure what was re-written or re-shot for G.I. Joe but there are still a lot of problems with the film.  My opinion is the studio wanted to make an extremely safe but box office friendly picture.  The film was way too safe though which resulted in an incredibly boring feature.


   G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the sequel to 2009 Oscar winning classic (just kidding) G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.  Now just to warn you, you do not need to see The Rise of Cobra before you see Retaliation.  First off, a very brief synopsis of how the The Rise of Cobra ended is given during the intro to Retaliation.  Secondly, Retaliation was written so that any person watching it can understand what’s going on.  Literally anyone.  The plot of Retaliation is very basic to the point where I was wondering if it was written by fifth graders who wanted to make a G.I. Joe movie.  Basically, the president of the U.S. is not really the president.  He is a member of the evil organization known as Cobra, but disguised as the president.  His first act is to destroy the G.I. Joes and convince the American people that they were traitors.  The surviving members of the Joes, including Roadblock (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson) must now form a plan to retaliate and stop Cobra before their next evil act of launching a device that’s more powerful than a nuclear weapon.  Pretty dumb right?


As mentioned before, Retaliation is riddled with poor writing and pathetic one-liners.  Here’s an example: Cobra Commander asks Zartan (the man disguised as the president) how he’s treating the real president.  Zartan’s response is, “I don’t know why they call it water boarding.  I never get bored.”  Cue the rim-shot sound effect.  Seriously, everyone in the theatre groaned after that line and many other lines in the movie.  One major problem I had with the script, however, was the addition of the original G.I. Joe (played by Bruce Willis).  They had the chance to create an awesome character who could contribute to the film but Bruce Willis doesn’t do anything.  He fires his gun twice and one of those times is seen in the trailer.  Willis is in the film for a very short time (maybe ten minutes) and his character has no substance or meaning.  The only reason Bruce Willis is in this film is because his name is Bruce Willis and he provides star power.


The writing for G.I. Joe: Retaliation is bad but the directing is worse.  This film was directed by Jon M. Chu who’s previous directing credentials include Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D, and Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.  Who’s idea was it to have this guy direct an action movie?  Well Chu has seen enough action movies to throw in all the clichés such as having Dwayne Johnson walk forward and don’t look back as an explosion is occurring because as Will Ferrell says, “Cool guys don’t look at explosions.”  There is also a very large over-use of slow motion shots done in this film.  The movie would probably be thirty minutes shorter if they played all the slow motion shots at regular speed.  The acting in Retaliation is atrocious.  Except for Dwayne Johnson, every actor looks like they are reading their lines of a cue card.  Johnson is the only one who is trying to earn his paycheck but he can only do so much.  The last thing that I blame the director on, is the reason this movie is so boring.  I can accept poor writing, bad acting, and even over-done clichés as long as the movie is fun to watch.  This is the rare example where a movie knows that it’s bad but has fun with it and goes over the top with really good action.  This movie is far too safe to even come close to that level of fun action.  There is no swearing and no blood.  People die but you don’t see anything.  I’m actually surprised that this is PG-13 because it gets very close to PG level violence.  There are minimal explosions and almost every fight is a long, drawn out scene where you see bullets fired that don’t hit anything or swords clashing against each other over and over.  I’m going to say that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a skip it.  I wouldn’t even recommend taking your kids because it’s not even flashy enough for them to be entertained.  I’m sorry to inform that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a boring and forgettable movie but now you know.  And knowing is half the battle (I’m sorry, I couldn’t resist).


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