Were you worried that Jon Chu’s sequel to 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra would repeat the mistakes of its predecessor? Ease your fears because it definitely did not. The year’s first big blockbuster delivers everything you could possibly want from a G.I. Joe movie and maybe even a little more. This time around Paramount enlisted a team of fans of the property and the result is a film that improves upon its predecessor in pretty much every way imaginable. Retaliation doesn’t just take one step in the right direction for the franchise, it takes ten. This is such a good G.I. Joe movie, you almost forget that Rise Of Cobra even exists.
While it is a direct sequel to The Rise Of Cobra, Chu and company remove the sillier elements in a way that almost reboots the franchise while continuing where we left off at the end of the first film. Didn’t see the first film and have no intention of ever watching it? I don’t blame you at all. Don’t worry, there’s an opening bit that will get you up to speed and establish where we are at in the Joe world. The story is simple and it shouldn’t be any other way. Cobra is out to take over the world and it’s only the Joes can stop them. There’s a few subplots in the film, one in particular that even I found myself scratching my head about, but the good outweighs the bad when it comes down to them. Overall the story is action-packed, face paced and heavily influenced by Larry Hama’s classic run on the comic series.
Director Jon M. Chu really brought it with this film. If you thought the director wouldn’t be able to handle this based on what he has done in the past, prepare to insert your foot into your mouth. The action scenes in this film are fun, exciting and just plain awesome. The film’s Himalaya scene in particular definitely raises the bar for action sequences. The mountainside dialogue-free fight between Snake Eyes, Jinx and a horde of Red Ninjas, which was inspired by Larry Hama’s “Silent Interlude”, is a massively thrilling sequence that feels bigger than life.
The performances are pretty damn solid throughout the film. Dwayne Johnson stands out though and is perfect as Roadblock and dominates whenever on screen. The only real “weak” link in the film is RZA as Blind Master. The scenes with him are over the top goofy and somewhat cringe worthy at times. Maybe the campy vibe will work with some but for me it didn’t. Everything is great about the ninja aspect of the film, expect for the scenes that he is. On the bright side though, he is in only a few. But let’s move on to something more important. The villains in this film are spot on. Unlike the character we saw in Rise Of Cobra, this IS Cobra Commander. He’s got the right look, the right attitude and an evil and menacing as hell voice. Ray Stevenson is awesome as Firefly and keeps his mask on more than you’d expect which works to the film’s advantage. You actually get a real COBRA this time instead of some random “nanomite controlled” randoms in metal suits with lazer guns.
The final verdict here is that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is definitely a true G.I. Joe movie. If you’re going into this expecting Oscar worthy material, you’re in the wrong place. If you’re just out for a bad ass action movie that brings the true essence of the franchise to life, you should know that this film is for you. And knowing is half the battle, right?