About two weeks before it’s June 29th 2012 release, G.I. Joe: Retaliation was pulled. The official reason given was to up convert to 3-D, while some felt it was to add footage. Channing Tatum’s Duke, one of the few characters and actors to return from the first movie, Rise of Cobra, died during the first act. Supposedly the portrayal of the relationship between Duke and Dwayne Johnson’s Roadblock was strong (it was) and his death tested poorly in early screenings. This isn’t the first time Hasbro has had trouble killing Duke, or other lead characters. Turns out this report was false, as no new scenes with Duke were added as far as I can tell.
Retaliation was a much better movie than Rise of Cobra, but still firmly rooted as a popcorn flick. The opening scene showed Roadblock cutting, or more accurately melting, a hole in a fence with some high tech hand heaters. I knew that nothing but big budget nonsense was to follow. In all fairness, Cobra’s plan wasn’t actually a bad one. The execution was crazy though. Seeing Cobra Commander walking with his ninja bodyguards in tow was one of the many scenes helping the movie live up to the G.I. Joe name.
The standouts of the movie were again the lead ninjas of Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow. Ray Park (Snake Eyes) does a phenomenal job as the silent badass. Equally, Lee Byung-hun was amazing as Storm Shadow. The characters have had a long a storied history. Storm Shadow was created by comic writer Larry Hama in 1984’s G.I. Joe #21, one of the most famous comic books ever printed. The issue featured Snake Eyes infiltrating a Cobra Castle to rescue fellow Joe, Scarlett. Since we followed Snake Eyes, a character who took a vow of silence, the issue was wordless, a first for comics. During this mission, the two ninja’s met and battled for the first time. Since then, they have continually battled in every iteration of Joe.
There were two performances in particular I want to call out. Jonathan Pryce’s President was a very fun character. The man was Cobra impersonator Zartan in disguise, and played the duel roll of prisoner and mad despot. Watching him blackmail the other world leaders during the third act scenes was incredibly entertaining. The Rza’s Blind Master left much to be desired. The former Wu-Tang member has been scoring movies for years, and as of late has been transitioning into acting via Californication and his own Man with the Iron Fists. While his scores are amazing, his performances are wooden and over the top. Hopefully he’ll find a better rhythm in time. Ha, pun.
Two scenes for me were particularly eye rolling. Bruce Willis’ General Colton has a lot of guns. Seriously, like a stupid about of guns. His cabinets are 3 inches deep with false backs and guns hidden behind. Grenades in the fruit bowl. Fake thermostat keypad. Just wow. During the final battle Cobra Commander was walking to an escape helicopter in slow motion. This was incredibly poor editing from a time lapse perspective as it was intercut amongst several other actions scenes moving at normal speed. Roadblock did 8 laps around the complex in his tank and Cobra Commander took 3 steps? Really?
Again, the movie is pure popcorn flick mindless fun. If you have any affinity for G.I. Joe, this is more than serviceable. Nothing will top the original though. Look for G.I. Joe 3 in 2-3 years (already announced).
What did you think of the movie? Who’s you favorite Joe (Sergeant Slaughter)? Suggestion for topics? Comment below!