GI Joe: Retaliation REVIEW

GI Joe: Retaliation review.

GI Joe: Retaliation

“Who brought out the gimp?”

Release Date: 27 March 2013
12A | 110 minutes
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Jon M Chu
Cast:Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Adrianne Palicki, DJ Cotrona, Jonathan Pryce, Bruce Willis, Ray Park, Byung-hun Lee, Ray Stevenson

This peculiarly unwanted and unwelcome sequel to 2009’s risible GI Joe: The Rise Of Cobra has two things going for it: firstly, it’s better than its predecessor; and secondly it’s got The Rock in it. But even Dwayne’s ample frame can’t quite shoulder the weight of this mindless blockbuster.

Despite apologetically ushering in an almost entirely new cast of characters, curiously the story picks up right where Rise Of The Cobra left off, with make-up magician Zartan occupying the Oval Office and ordering the eradication of the Joes at the behest of Cobra Commander. Three survive: Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), “Lady” Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (DJ Cotrona), who enlist the help of original Joe Bruce Willis to stop Cobra’s pleasingly silly plan to take over the world; meanwhile, Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow sort out unfinished ninja-business on the other side of the globe.

It’s gibberish, of course, something for the characters to blurt bland dialogue about between outlandish set-pieces while they’re shifted from one encounter to the next like pawns on a plastic playmat. A surprisingly tense War Room sequence (the best scene in the film) lends the final act some unexpected high stakes, but you never care about the characters enough to really get behind their mission.

The action provides satisfying eye candy, but it can’t compensate for the shortcomings elsewhere. It’s at its best when up close and personal – Snake Eyes’ and Storm Shadow’s swords-and-ninja-star encounters are always a high point. A scrap across sheer cliff faces impresses with its sheer lunacy, but is let down by 3D which makes the characters look like toys being tossed around on strings.

Several of the actors are clearly having a lot of fun. Jonathan Pryce is a riot as the faux Pres, but Willis is on autopilot in his extended cameo, and most characters have so little to do they may as well be made of plastic. Johnson is the standout, a genuinely joyous screen presence, particularly when he’s given a foil to play off; a shame, then, that his demeanour flips from fun to dreary earnestness quite so early on, in line with the film’s curiously confused tone.

Unlike the first GI Joe film, Retaliation isn’t hatefully dumb – it’s entertainingly dumb. But even after the umpteen millions it cost to make, it never comes close to capturing the imagination like three 3/4” action figures can.

Jordan Farley

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