G.I. Joe: Retaliation Movie Review
By ignoring everything that made 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra a hugely entertaining guilty pleasure, the all-new writers and director of this sequel have made one of the most abrasively annoying action movies in recent memory. And even worse, they have indulged in exactly the same over-serious idiocy that the first film was gently lampooning. Instead, this is just a bombastic, incoherent, offensive mess.
Since the US President (Pryce) has been replaced by an evil doppelganger from the villainous Cobra organisation, he now sets about destroying his enemies, the elite G.I. Joe force. Led by Duke (Tatum), they're sent to collect some rogue nukes in Pakistan, and everything goes wrong. Now it's up to three off-the-grid Joes - meatlead leader Roadblock (Johnson), shy muscle-boy Flint (Cotrona) and tough-sexy Jaye (Palicki) - to stop Cobra's nefarious plan, whatever that might be. Their key opponents are Cobra goon Firefly (Stevenson) and ninja Storm Shadow (Lee), who's more complex than he looks. And the Joes have secret allies in Asian pals Jinx (Yung) and Snake Eyes (Park), as well as the original Joe himself (Willis).
The main problem here is that producer di Bonaventura forgot that it takes a lot of skill to make a stupid movie that's actually entertaining. Instead, this film is predictable and inane, with action scenes that stretch the limits even of stupid-movie plausibility (such as a ludicrous Spidey-style aerial battle in the Himalayas). And the fist-fights are impossible to see because they are confusingly directed, jarringly edited and then converted into unnecessary 3D. When everything explodes in every single chase scene, it becomes a bit boring really. And while there are gadgets everywhere, none of them are very cool.
In other words, the key ingredient missing from this sequel is irony, which was the original movie's ace card. Preposterous plot points aren't any fun when the characters are this thin and uninteresting. And there's also the problem that the film is deeply racist and sexist, as the heroes are the ones who kill foreign-looking people without thinking (OK, the baddies want to liquify London, so they're even worse). And poor Palicki is so exploited that it's painful to watch. First she lectures the boys on misogyny, then she heads out to distract the villains with a revealing jogging outfit or evening gown. But by playing these scenes dead straight, the whole film feels rather sad.