G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a no-brainer of a movie. If a supernatural force beyond understanding urged you to like “The Rise of Cobra”, then it is likely that you will enjoy the sequel just as much. Bless you. However, if you hated the 2009 film at least half as much as I did, then you should be smart enough to avoid its 2013 follow-up. Besides, I’m pretty sure that you’ve long decided on whether you’ll see this or not since it’s already been out for almost three weeks.
Sigh. I shouldn’t be writing this review. It’s almost 1 in the morning and I have to be at work in a few hours. (Damn it! I have to be at work in a few hours!) So what gives? You see, movies that are as preposterous as “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” are the most fun to review. And, dear reader, when a movie like this is released, I cannot resist. Roger Ebert specialized in reviewing movies that are dumb beyond belief. I write this in further dedication to his spectacular life.
For the 15th time, Channing Tatum reprises his role as Channing Tatum. He isn’t around for long through as he is quickly replaced by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as the film’s lead hero. The Rock (The Tooth Fairy) makes a better action star than Channing Tatum, which doesn’t really say much for The Rock, since Justin Timberlake and even Jay Leno would also make a better action star than Tatum. With over 20 movies in his resume, Tatum’s career highlight so far is playing a stripper in “Magic Mike”. Is it about time for the 32-year-old non-actor to take a long, honest look at himself?
The majority of the Joes are wiped out early on, leaving the fate of the world in the hands of Roadblock (The Rock), Flint, and Lady Jaye. The latter two Joes provide the film with its face value, especially Jaye. She is one of those sexy characters who can avoid all levels of suspicion by simply keeping her head down and her boobs up. We’re lucky she’s on our side. They are later joined by General Joe Colton, effortlessly played by Bruce Willis, probably because he doesn’t care. Colton supplies one of the two entertaining scenes in the film by touring us to his seemingly normal suburban home that has more firearms and ammunition than the entire Philippine Army.
One of the few returning cast members from the original film is Storm Shadow, the gravity-defying ninja with an awkward weakness. Storm Shadow’s first sequence establishes him to be an invincible warrior who can withstand almost all sorts of beatings. He suffers a major electrocution and an explosion big enough to blow up a McDonald’s. No worries. He walks it off like any other ninja would. Later, in the film’s climax, four or five box crates are pushed against him. He gets knocked down. Say what? Poor Storm Spirit. Two more box crates and he would’ve died.
Movies within the same category as “Retaliation” makes its living from advanced gadgets and weaponry. And while this sequel runs on action and adrenaline, its use of technology is utterly joyless and anticlimactic. Consider the sequence when Cobra is rescued from imprisonment. A cluster of robot fireflies is sent to the prison. Think about it. Millions and millions of dollars and hundreds and hundreds of hours must have been spent in the creation of such a complex device. I had high hopes for its capabilities, but what do the robots do the moment they reach the prison gates? They explode. Say what? Whatever happened to firing a rocket launcher? Is it me, or did the evil mastermind Cobra spent millions just to blow up a gate?
The scene doesn’t even end there. Firefly, the villain played by Ray Stevenson, not the exploding robots, drives his motorcycle full speed towards the prison’s thick, maximum-security entrance. Seconds before Firefly collides with the wall, he dislodges himself from the motorcycle, causing the motorcycle to do some dislodging on its own. The vehicle, which turns out to be a model far advanced than what it appears to be, separates into about six different pieces. It strikes the wall at full force, and explodes. While I sat motionless and exhausted inside the theater, I imagined Michael Bay, sitting inside a different theater, watching the same movie, saying to himself: “Challenge Accepted”. Oh, dear.
As the extremely wealthy Cobra is released from his bondage, so does his master plan is revealed to us. Are you ready? Seven armed satellites have been positioned above seven countries. Each satellite holds a bomb. A push of a button can annihilate half of the human race! The Joes must act fast! To defeat Cobra and save mankind, Roadblock and his team must… but wait! How much money did Cobra allot for this project? Where did he build the seven satellites and seven bombs? Where did he get the manpower that made this all happen? When did he find the time to print Cobra Flags and Cobra Banners to display outside the White House? I don’t have the exact numbers, but I’m pretty sure that Cobra has the most expensive “Take over the World” budget in movie history. If Cobra just waited a couple more years and saved up, he could have just bought the world.
One last thing: how did those bomb-satellites reach the orbit without getting noticed? Did Cobra commence take off during NASA’s lunch break?