Has it really been 4 years since the first "G.I. Joe" movie came out? I guess so. Apparently they were waiting that long to make sure they got the second one right. Pretty smart move since they did NOT get off to a good start with that first one. Yes, I know I gave it a B- in my review of it, but that may have been more inspired by the fact that there was that sentimental attachment to the G.I. Joe brand. I would be more objective this time around.
In "G.I. Joe: Retaliation", the Joe forces find themselves facing a Cobra organization that has stepped up its efforts to be a world threat. Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) may have been captured but Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) is still on the loose. Thanks to his impersonation of the President, he has framed the Joes and doomed them for extinction. It's up to Roadblock (The Rock) and a few remaining Joes to thwart Cobra's most diabolical world domination plan to date.
My best guess is that apparently Navy SEALs don't exist in the world where G.I. Joes do. Or maybe the Joes are supposed to be an even more advanced fighting force than them. Whatever the case, after seeing "Zero Dark Thirty" all I could think about when watching the Joes in their first assault is how ridiculous it all looked. Not a single one of them had on protective head gear. They were able to land an entire force of Joes on the roof of an enemy base without any detection whatsoever. They repel down from the ceiling into a swarm of hostile enemies and not one Joe gets wounded. Needless to say, things just didn't start off good for me.
Then there was the whole issue with the President getting impersonated. It's never explained to us how it happened. The movie opens and Zartan's already there. How in the world would that even be possible? Because in order for it to occur, not only would he have the problem of getting that close to the President to do it, but he would have to successfully infiltrate the Secret Service to make it happen. Maybe I was just being too overly critical after "Olympus Has Fallen" had clearly made a more succesful attempt to make a White House infiltration look more convincing.
My favorite scene in the movie wasn't even action-oriented. Well..at least not entirely. It's when Roadblock and Duke (Channing Tatum) are playing one of those Call of Duty video games and Duke can't operate the controls worth a dang. The irony behind the fact that his character is a beast doing the real thing but can't effectively play the video game doing the same thing was pretty funny. I know exactly how he feels since I can't play those games to save my life. Of course, I can't do the combat skills in real life either, but still.
**SPOILER ALERT** One of the biggest problems I had was how easy they made Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) switch sides to help the Joes. Dude had JUST freed Cobra Commander and just like that he's going to work with the Joes to get revenge? Umm..how about if you didn't help him get free in the first place you wouldn't have that problem? Only two G.I. Joe movies and they have a bad guy switching sides in both of them. That's really the best writing they could come up with?
I was looking forward to seeing how Bruce Willis's role would play out in this one. Supposedly, he was the very first Joe. The one who was the inspiration behind the entire fighting force getting started. True to form, Willis was his normal "Die Hard" self. Because let's face it...isn't he pretty much Joe McClane in every action movie? At least he was a little better in this one than he was in the latest "Die Hard" installment though. And that wasn't an easy task given the material he had to work with.
The one saving grace "Retaliation" had was the action. They managed to stay away from the hokey stuff that plagued the first "Joe" movie like those ridiculous acceleration suits. The fighting sequences were handled much better. Even in spite of how far-fetched some of them were. Like the mountain fighting sequence. Or how the Rock is able to avoid larger tank fire in a much smaller assault vehicle. But hey...the cartoon was all about over-the-top unrealistic action so I wouldn't expect anything less in the movie. I'm just glad they improved their efforts since the first one 4 years ago.
My rating: C+