The New G.I. Joe Movie Is Just Like The Last G.I. Joe Movie. Which Is To Say That It Sucks.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Director: Jon M. Chu.
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis.
Where's It Playing? Various Metroplex megaplexes!
When your predecessor is an almost unwatchable piece of big-budget megaplex fodder, the only way to go is up, right? Well, unless you stay the same.
Yes, I'm talking about you, 2010's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and your newly released sequel,
G.I. No Go: Regurgitation is more like it.
See what you've made me do there, G.I. Joe? I've resorted to punny prose that would curl even Gene Shalit's mustache.
Alas, the sad fact remains: This is a horrible movie. You know you're in for a bumpy ride when Channing Tatum abandons ship within the first ten minutes.
And here I expected more from the director of Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
In his first non-dance related film, director John Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D) does a few visually stimulating things with the film's tent-pole action sequences — including one in particular that movie nerds may forever refer to in the future as “Ninja Mountain” – but it's not nearly enough to save the film as a whole. Or even enough to save the film from the moments immediately following said sequences.
Listen: This is a movie based on toys. We're not expecting gold. Just some butter for the popcorn! As we've come to expect from these big-screen playthings — Transformers being the Optimus Prime example, as it too stands as yet another film produced by Hasbro and targeted at has-bros — films of this scope are supposed to be big and shiny and not unlike a toy still in its package.
But Retaliation feels dull and flat in nearly every way. It's like a toy that's been played with before and returned to the store, sealed to a fate in the bargain bin. I imagine DVD copies of Retaliation will face a similar fate in just a few short months' time.
But in all honesty, and sarcasm completely side, I really did expect more from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the writing duo that gave us the action-packed comedic stylings of Zombieland. If any pair of Hollywood scribes knows how to handle fun action, it's these dudes, right? That's what I thought going in to this one, at least.
And oh how wrong I was. At least in the case of this film. Make no mistake: Retaliation's problems originate in its messy, under-developed script.
The cast — featuring its own set of real-life action figures (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis, among others) — try their best to chew on the dialogue's zingy attempts at pop culture relevance, with its Jay-Z and (no joke) Tears For Fears lyric quotes. There's even a cameo appearance from a certain Wu-Tang master.
In the end, though, they just chew all that dialogue up and spit it all out from the page to the screen, resulting in a mishmash of misplaced, exposition-filled scenes that feel haplessly strung together by action sequences, none of which are grandiose enough distract the audience from the glaring defects of this film's core concepts.
Really, if this movie was in fact a toy, I'd advise its manufacturer to recall it as soon as possible.
Instead, I'll simply suggest that you save your $10 this weekend and watch 1987's GI: Joe: The Animated Movie if you're looking for some good ol' fashioned, action-packed, American, ass-kicking fun.
That movie's free to stream on YouTube, just so you know.
And knowing's half the battle.
Rating: 3 out of 10 Cobra-la-la-la-la-la's!