March 30, 2013 by Vinnie Leduc
Usually, big-budget sequels aim for bigger, if not better. Aside for a couple of audacious plot elements and the 3D that peaks at the mountain peak ninja scenes (the closest Retaliation gets to The Rise of Cobra‘s Paris chase), there’s nothing bigger or better about this regular Joe. In fact, many of the Joes from The Rise of Cobra are inexplicably missing, including Dennis Quaid, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Rachel Nichols, and Marlon Wayans (not like he’s gone off to much better things though). As such, Retaliation acts like just another feature-length adventure that’s skipped an episode since The Rise of Cobra while also retaining the setup left by the final scene of the original. So if you haven’t seen The Rise of Cobra, there’s really no need to unless you prefer the hotness of Sierra Miller’s Baroness (also missing) over Adrianne Palicki’s Lady Jaye or if you miss Marlon Wayans’ wisecracks.
The centerpiece of G.I. Joe: Retaliation is franchise newcomer Dwayne Johnson. He’s decent enough here, but if you want a better Rock movie with slightly more brains and credibility, try last month’s Snitch, based on a (still highly implausible) true story. Oh, and you may have noticed from the trailers that Retaliation introduces the original Joe, played by Bruce Willis. Don’t get too excited though. Retaliation may be similar to A Good Day to Die Hard, especially in terms of brainless bullets and explosions, except that Bruce Willis does even less in Retaliation. I honestly can’t remember any of his non-trailer scenes.
It may not be as much fun as the original, but G.I. Joe: Retaliation can still be enjoyed… under certain circumstances. This is a franchise based on action figure toys, Saturday morning cartoons, and comic books. For kids. The setpieces and props look like what kids would imagine them to be. They won’t be fixated on the laughable and ridiculous plot holes. So it’s no wonder that like its predecessor, Retaliation seems like the perfect movie for a preteen to watch as he graduates from wholesome animated movies and typical family fare to the land of consumerist PG-13, where more people die (but more often implicitly) and one person onscreen drops one single F-bomb variation (1:1 odds it’s during the climactic finale).
If you didn’t like The Rise of Cobra, you’ll HATE Retaliation. If you loved The Rise of Cobra, you’ll like Retaliation. Kids will probably love it. Adults may or may not, depending on how nostalgic they feel. The only way adults will actually like G.I. Joe: Retaliation is if it reminds them of the cartoons they watched and the action figures they played with a quarter century ago. Otherwise, check out Olympus Has Fallen if you want some good ol’-fashioned brainless action. G.I. Joe: Retaliation gets 2.5 out of 5 stars.