G.I. Joe: Retaliation

GI Joe Retaliation

Cartoonish heroes and villains, each with their own code names and costumes, hold sword fights and machine gun battles in furtherance of the world’s thinnest plot.

I wish I knew what it is that makes bad movies enjoyable… so that I could take some and give it to “G.I. Joe”.

The G.I. Joes, America’s elite fighting force, are betrayed and attacked, leaving only a handful of members alive. When those members unite and investigate what happened, they discover that the President (Jonathan Pryce) has been replaced with an imposter.

Complicating matters is the fact that Cobra Commander has been broken out of his top secret maximum security prison by Firefly (Ray Stevenson) and Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun). Now it’s up to Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (DJ Cotrona), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) to foil Cobra’s plan, rescue the President, and ensure the safety of the world.

In order to do so, they’ll need to call on the original G.I. Joe, General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis).

I wish I could give you more plot summary than those three, thin paragraphs filled with code names and performers, but there really isn’t much else to it. “G.I Joe: Retaliation” is about as unsubstantial as movies come.  There’s really very little story to be told here, and barely any characterization whatsoever. Roadblock is close to Duke (Channing Tatum) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) had Daddy issues. After that, you get all the info you need from their code names (Cobra Commander and Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow and Firely, etc.) as they all do battle to save the free world.

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” features a couple of notable action sequences, primarily the sword fight on the mountainside so prominently featured in the ad campaign. The action is offered up frequently, as the film has so little to offer to fill the downtime. Even though the action was decent however, I can’t very well recommend the film on that basis alone, especially as the fighting comes across as hollow. Without fully knowing or caring who these characters are, and with a silly overall plot, it all just comes across as noise for noise’s sake. People are shooting at each other and clanging swords, but if I don’t care if any of them live or die, and I think the overall mission is a joke, all the meaning of the action gets sapped. So unless the scene is inventive and cool (and only the mountainside battle really is), it’s a waste.

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” wasn’t boring, at least, but it was so superficial and silly that I couldn’t find any enjoyment in it. I hope that it will please fans of the property, because they definitely did little to soften the mythology for the general public. I kept feeling as if they expected me to be familiar with the characters and backstories prior to going in, because scant little attention was paid to them here.

For “Joe Fans” only, I didn’t even care for it in a “So bad it’s good” way.


Daniel Fogarty

50 thoughts on “G.I. Joe: Retaliation

  1. You nailed it – “it all just comes across as noise for noise’s sake.”

    Feeling better about my review as the days go by. At first I thought I was being unnecessarily critical, since I usually like EVERYTHING. (I’m easy to entertain). But this did nothing to make me like it.

  2. You mean this isn’t the action-packed classic studios promised us?

    “I am shocked — shocked — to find that gambling is going on in here!”

    Thanks, Fogs.

  3. Well, considering how bad I thought the first one was, I had no intention of seeing the second one either. Thanks for confirming that for me.

    I think the breaking point on whether or not you have any hope of enjoying these flicks is whether or not you watched the cartoons. I had a GI Joe figure as a kid (Not a ‘doll’!) but I never watched the cartoon, so I found absolutely no connection to any of the characters, plots, bad guys etc. To me, GI Joe was just a toy you could throw over cliffs, drown in ponds, pound your brother with, and otherwise abuse. He wasn’t a character.

    • Yeah, exactly. Unfortunately, what I’m seeing from people who DID watch the cartoons is that they’re more upset about this movie than anything. LOL. They’re the ones with hopes, expectations, etc. I’m all too willing to say this movie sucked and move on… these guys feel let down 😦

      This was probably a mild step up from the first one, but not by much. And not that that’s saying much, anyways…

    • Well, it WAS big, and it WAS dumb, but it wasn’t fun, youre right.

      The cast was fine, but I dont think anyone could have salvaged this movie. Nothing they could do after getting dealt this hand… 😦

  4. I have to admit, I actually enjoyed this one (don’t judge me!) 😉 lol The first one is one of my action movie guilty pleasures, and I also enjoyed the original cartoon (which was also pretty cheesy and campy). 🙂 Neither the first movie nor its sequel are great movies, and all the critics comments are valid, but for some reason, I find them both to be fun.

    • Aw, I dont judge people unless they answer off topic in the Tossin’ It Out There threads. LOL Then, you know, admittedly, I occasionally lay into people LOL 😉

      My standing policy is that I always hope people like movies. Sucks to waste your time watching a stink bomb, so if someone likes something I didnt, thats great, glad they got off the hook!

      You probably put your finger right on it though Ash, that its your connection to the cartoon that saved the day for you. Although I read a pretty scathing review over at UnderScoopFire, and those guys are the biggest Joe fans ever! 😯

      • I definitely won’t defend it, but I did enjoy it. 😉 lol A few things did bother me, though. Still not sure why they killed off Channing Tatum’s character, and wondered why Cobra Commander was absent from most of the film.

      • I have to confess I had a blast on Twitter with a couple other bloggers ripping into some plot holes here. For example… where exactly was the Rock fighting that tank battle at the end of the film? Supposedly it was critical to the success of the mission, but at the very least… it wasn’t on the White House lawn, LOL! It was in some… desert, near a…. river… kind of in the greater DC area…. I guess? LOL 😀

    • Its tolerable, I suppose. I mean, it wasn’t “A Haunted House”, where I was DYING for it to be over. But I went in thinking it was going to be rubbish, and I came out thinking my feelings were pretty much confirmed.

  5. Pingback: G.I. Joe: Retaliation Review: Saving the World… Except for London | Rorschach Reviews

  6. I had a bit more moderate view then what I’ve been hearing, I think there was a definite improvement over Rise of Cobra, but that’s not really high praise. I think the biggest problem was that this was a sequel and not a reboot as it should have been, just when you thought they wanted you to forget about the last movie something would be referenced, I went with 3 friends 1 had seen RoC and 2 hadn’t the one who had was confused about where all the other characters went, the other two said they felt like they were dropped into the middle of something, neither of which is a good sign. I really feel like the potential was there for a good fun blockbuster type action movie, but RoC beat The Rock and it just fell short.

    • I’m not familiar enough with the first one to have been struck by any of that, really. I actually havent seen it all the way through beginning to end, though I’ve seen all of it (jumping in the middle, etc)

      I was more like your two friends who felt they were dropped in the middle of something. Even for a sequel, this flick didnt do a good job of explaining the whos and whats and whys. 😦

      It definitely was a little better than the first one (I think the action scenes in particular were MUCH better), but as you say, that’s not the highest praise…

  7. Just saw this and it wasn’t so bad. There was some action (loved the mountain scene that worked great in 3D). It was mildly enjoyable for me. But all in all it’s nothing but a one hour 40 minute commercial for action figures.

    • LOL!! Funny. Yeah, pretty much, right? Disposable entertainment at best.

      Lets hope at least all your son’s friends who are these big GI Joe nuts are at least happy with the toys they get! 😀

  8. Yea Idk what they were going for in this movie. There some solid moments the mountain scene was pretty cool. I liked Cobra Commander’s helmet it looked like the cartoon’s version. Good review.

  9. Good review, Fogs, and I’m pretty much right there with you, man. The mountainside fight aside, I really didn’t like this one at all. This wasn’t so bad it’s good, it was just bad. Baaaaaaaaaaaaaad. 😛

    • Yeah, I need to figure out what it is that makes bad movies so bad they’re good. Because that factor was missing here. Maybe its a certain degree of laughability. Because as bad as this one was, it took itself seriously (no camp) and it did have high production values. IDK. 😦

      Whatever it was, I concur. It was missing here. LOL

    • It’s not worth any money, Jay, dont give this movie any money, man… LOL. If HOWIE didnt like it, you know its bad, right? I assumed if there was ever gonna be an apologist for this movie, it would have been him, right? But even he couldnt…

    • As I walked out of the theater after seeing this movie, I actually felt unclean. If you give it money, you are enabling the people who made it. I am not too keen on the Iron Man franchise (I seem to be in the minority on that one), but I wish I had saved my money to see Star Trek Into Darkness twice.

      • Well, go easy on yourself. There are worse sins to commit with your money. LOL

        Time has yet to tell whether Iron Man 3 or Trek Into Darkness will be worth two visits, either… I have a healthy degree of skepticism about both. 😉

  10. Just got back from seeing this movie, and there are only three bright spots. One: the mountaintop battle is one of the best action sequences I have ever seen. Two: Jonathan Pryce is incredible, and totally committed to his role. Three: the implication that Bruce Willis’ character is the original G.I. Joe action figure from the sixties.
    Otherwise, this is one of the worst movies I have ever seen, ever. It’s not “From Dusk Till Dawn” fun bad, it’s “Battleship Earth” awful.

    • I agree witht he overall assessment PDB (Great avatar btw). It is the “Battleship Earth” no fun kind of awful. 😦 I’m not that high on the mountside scene, but it was pretty good.

      Willis was sort of just “there” for this one though. I dunno… too many times nowadays he’s just “there”. 😦

      • The sad thing is, he is perfectly capable of stretching. He is wonderfully funny in Death Becomes Her, and in Twelve Monkeys he plays it totally straight. But for an actor who is coasting, he is still amazingly charismatic.

  11. You liked it less than I, but expressed your distaste clearly ” “G.I Joe: Retaliation” is about as unsubstantial as movies come. There’s really very little story to be told here, and barely any characterization whatsoever.” Yep. Something to have on while consuming other crap in the dark.

      • Well after the abysmal Die Hard 5, I figure I’m staying away from another Bruce Willis bombastic action flick. I do like Dwayne Johnson, though seems like very few of his films I’m actually interested in, ahah.

  12. As someone who did grow up with the cartoon and the toys, I do feel some small obligation to watch these films. Show solidarity with my 80s-kid brothers-in-arms, you know?

    But as someone who watched three Michael Bay produced Transformers films for the same reasons, I don’t feel the slightest compulsion to actively seek the films out in any way. Lesson learned, you know?

    Someday there will be a great action movie made based on an 80s cartoon and toy line. And the next generation of bloggers will have to review it because we’ll all have heart attacks from the shock.

    • LOL. Aw, man, dont write us off just yet! I could survive that shock! LOL 😀

      You’re right, although its not just the 80s. Has there ever been a cartoon adaptation that worked well? I can think of a lot of crappy ones… but no good ones. 😦

  13. Reflects what I expected. I didn’t even like the first one..seeing as I watched 30 minutes and then fell asleep..haha! The digital copy for that one is still sitting in my computer somewhere just not exactly sure when I’d want to give it another shot. 😉

    • I feel asleep on “Rise of Cobra”, too. LOL I’ve since seen the rest of it, but Ive yet to see it all the way through from start to finish. 😯

      This is marginally better, but still kind of the same meaningless action movie jumble 😦 I wouldnt worry about catching either of them, Kim.

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