GI Joe: Retaliation REVIEW

GI Joe: Retaliation DVD review.

GI Joe: Retaliation

The sexual chemistry isn’t a patch on Moonlighting, sadly.

2013 | 12 | 106 minutes/123 minutes | £19.99 (DVD)/£19.99 (Blu-ray)/£29.99 (Blu-ray 3D)
Distributor: Paramount Pictures
Director: Jon M Chu
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Bruce Willis, DJ Cotrona, Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum

He may have saved the hostages at Nakatomi Plaza, and the Earth from destruction by a meteor, but even Bruce Willis can’t save a GI Joe movie.

Willis’s “original Joe” General Colton comes into play after the elite unit’s framed for treason and all-but wiped out by Jonathan Pryce’s US President – actually evil master of disguise Zartan – as part of Cobra’s latest plan for world domination: Project Zeus. Sadly, Willis doesn’t turn up for a good 45 minutes and (despite his prominent positioning on the poster) gets little screen time thereafter.

That’s a shame, because he’s one of the few actors around who could sell a script this bad, crammed with musclehead clichés like “Welcome to hell!”, vapid “banter” of the sort traded between footballers on Twitter in lieu of wit, and abortive zingers like, “They call it a waterboard, but I never get bored”. When we reach a eight-minute setpiece that’s completely dialogue-free (a homage to a similarly silent 1984 issue of the Joe comic) it’s a blessed relief.

A movie for armchair soldiers who think combat is rock ‘n’ roll, Retaliation is profoundly dumb, even for a movie based on an ‘80s toy range – the sort of film in which a Joe can walk straight past Evil Security to snatch a DNA sample from the Pres, and orbiting weapons satellites can pop up without anyone noticing. Veteran Joe fans may get a buzz from seeing terrorist mastermind Cobra Commander donning his iconic chrome mask, or deadly enemies Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow teaming up; neophytes will be indifferent or baffled.

The film’s at its best – or at least, its most endurable – when it transcends everyday stupidity and aims for “audaciously ludicrous”. A motorbike that splits apart into missiles; a scrap with ninjas on the side of a mountain; a tour of the General’s gaff that reveals weapons stashed beneath the hob, under the cutlery drawer and down the back of the sofa… these moments at least stick in the memory, which is more than anything from predecessor GI Joe: Rise Of Cobra did.


The single-disc DVD has director/producer commentary (their discussion of “creative choices” is sometimes comically earnest), plus three short featurettes (totalling 18 minutes). These see the director and writers joined by various Hasbro execs and comics writer Larry Hama to discuss the evolution of Cobra Commander; that aforementioned 1984 comic story, “Silent Interlude”; and the relationship between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.

The Blu-ray (rated) has an “extended action cut” (17 minutes longer, god help us), another eight making-of featurettes (73 minutes) and three deleted scenes (four minutes).

Ian Berriman

For an alternative perspective, read our GI Joe: Retaliation review from the theatrical release.
Watch a GI Joe: Retaliation clip.
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