Reviewed by: Alexander Malsan
Bruce Willis … Joe Colton
Channing Tatum … Captain Duke Hauser
Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson … Roadblock
Adrianne Palicki … Lady Jaye
Ray Stevenson … Firefly
Walton Goggins … Warden Nigel James
Ray Park … Snake Eyes
Joseph Mazzello … Mouse
Arnold Vosloo … Zartan
RZA … Blind Master
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|Director||Jon M. Chu|
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Prequel: G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra (2009)
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” picks up where the previous installment left off. For those who are unfamiliar with the series, the G.I. Joes are an “elite force composed of the world’s finest soldiers” whose ultimate goal is to disarm and defeat a terrorist group known only as the Cobras. In the end of the first film (“G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra”), the Joes are able to defeat and imprison the two heads of the Cobra Team, The Cobra Commander and his assistant Destro. However, toward the end of the first film, we discover that Zartan, an elite member of the Cobras, using the help of nano-technological bugs called Nanamites, was able to reconstruct his face, infiltrate the retreat house of the President of the United States and impersonate the President, assuming control of the United States.
Flash forward a short period of time, since the G.I. Joes’ victory over Cobra, the Joes have had little to deal with since the leaders of Cobra were defeated. However, during a routine nuclear warhead extraction in the desert by the Joes, the team is ambushed by Cobra and only three Joes are left standing after the ambush: Road Block (played by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Flint (D. J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Pallicki). While the remaining Joes are making their way back to civilization, they learn of the Cobra Commander’s latest plan, to disarm other nations of their nuclear weapons (using Zartan, who, remember, is posing as the President) so that the Commander will be able to control the world. The Joes will have to band together (with the help of other allies), face Cobra, avenge the fallen G.I.s, and save the world… again.
My first reaction upon hearing that they had made a sequel to G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was one of shock. “Rise of Cobra” made its debut in 2009, and after hearing nothing about a sequel after a year or so, my thoughts were that it had not done that well to begin with and that there would be NO sequel (Interesting fact: “Retaliation” was to be released in the late spring-early summer of 2012. However, the filmmakers wanted to add 3D to “Retaliation,” in addition to more conversational scenes between Duke (Channing Tatum) and Road Block. Since it had been four years since “Rise of Cobra” had been released, I rented the film to refresh my memory, so that I would be able to adequately compare and contrast the initial film and sequel.
As such, reading that the first film had done well at Box Office and having rented and rewatched “Rise of Cobra,” it came as little surprise when I walked out and discovered how similar “Retaliation” is to “Rise of Cobra.” In fact, in terms of structure, not much changed, which, in my opinion, is very disappointing, but, at the same time, I understand where the director and producers are coming from. I assume their thoughts were, “‘Rise of Cobra’ worked well among the audiences, so let’s ensure that ‘Retaliation’ ends up the same way and play it safe with this sequel.” It felt, as I was sitting through “Retaliation,” that not much was different from the first film. “Retaliation” progressed in the same speed (in terms of plot development and action) as the first film, which helps those who enjoyed the pace of the first film (at the beginning of the film, there is a “recap” of the events of “Rise of Cobra,” which is a very nice touch). But for those who had seen “Rise of Cobra,” this pace is a disservice to fans who have seen the first installment.
If you are looking for a film with a complicated plot line, let me assure you that “Retaliation” does not fall under this category, as was the case with the first film. It has depth, to a certain extent, but also is simple enough to follow for the action thriller, which is always a plus in my book.
If there is one thing that the G.I. Joe film franchise could use significant improvement on, it’s the development of the main characters. As I was watching, I felt no connection with any of the characters, main or supporting. ***SPOILER*** When one of the main characters dies at the beginning of the film, I felt little sympathy, as I knew little about him, even though he had a prominent appearance in “Rise of Cobra.” ***END SPOILER*** As it turns out, only five of the original cast members from the first film returned for the sequel, which is a shame, as I thought the first film established characters that many of us would want to see return (e.g., Dennis Quaid played General Hawk in “Rise of Cobra”). On a positive note, the performances by the main characters are fine. Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is the funniest I have seen him in a long time, and even characters with the shortest appearance (such as Bruce Willis, who I felt should have been a more prominent figure in this film) put in good cameo performances.
Violence: As in “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra,” the level of violence remains the same in “Retaliation,” but I still consider it “heavy”. Most of the violence includes multiple scenes of gunfire, knife fights, explosions, etc. And so I urge caution to parents with children under the age of 13, to check the content carefully before allowing their children to see this film, as some of the violence will be graphic to young children. There is an extended scene where Cobras can be seen falling off a mountain, a main character dies at the beginning of the film, and lastly there is a scene where multiple nuclear missiles are launched, and we view images of their destruction to major cities.
Profanity: Moderate. I tallied eight instances of the word “h**l,” “a**” (4), one instance of “d**n”, and, lastly, Jesus’ name is taken in vain once. Other profanity includes a conversation between Duke (a G.I. Joe) and Road Block, where Duke mentions he’s sent two women out of the room before, to which Road Block replies, “Dude that was inappropriate,” and the two men are seen later having a conversation about panties.
Sex/Nudity: Mild. Lady Jay can be seen wearing a revealing gym outfit (very short shorts) and in one scene the camera shows a shot of her butt as she bends down to pick up groceries she has dropped. In another scene, we see Lady Jay changing out of her clothes (only her bra and underwear are seen) through a reflection off the TV (the view is obscured and brief).
Other: There is a brief scene of drinking, and, lastly, there is a scene where one of the G.I. Joes kidnaps someone and injects them with a sedative. I would also point out that there is a political theme underlying this movie dealing with the controversial topic of nuclear missile disarmament.
There are some positive themes in this film which include bravery, encouragement, and an appreciation of the military that can serve as an excellent discussion with your teens. The underlying theme, however, deals with the idea of terrorism and war. When we have God on our side, knowing that he is watching out for us, we can be assured that no amount of terrorism or fear will ever be able to shake us. God will always protect us when we need him, and because He is always there, we need not fear anything our enemy, Satan, tries to throw in our path. God will always be our “Rock, Shield, and Protector.”
It is difficult for me to say as to whether or not I recommend “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” Whether it is good that “Retaliation” was very similar (other than some minor differences in the plot) to “Rise of Cobra” is entirely up to the viewer. For those who are looking for a continuation of the first film, “Rise of Cobra,” “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” serves that purpose. For those who are new to the G.I. Joe film franchise though? I suggest skipping this film. It doesn’t really warrant a recommendation from me, not just because of the heavy violence, but because there’s nothing new or exciting that “Retaliation” has to offer. This film is not suitable for anyone under the age of 13, as the rating suggests, due mainly to the heavy amounts of violence, but is fine for mature teens and adults. My advice is to save your money and rent this movie only on a rainy day, or if you were a fan of the first installment.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Moderate / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.