When the G.I. Joes are framed for treason by a man posing as the POTUS, it’s up to Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and what remains of the crew to restore their good name while delivering some justice in the process.
On all fronts, director Jon M. Chu’s sequel delivers. Action? Hell ya. Comedy? Check. In fact, Tatum and Johnson have a great onscreen chemistry, one that will have you wanting to see the pair again in other films. Explosions? In spades. Exciting and crazy weaponry? You bet. Good looking eye candy in nearly every frame? Yes: The Rock! Yes: Channing Tatum! Yes: Adrianne Palicki! Yes: Lee Byung-hun!
In fact, the only way you’re going to have a bad time with G.I. Joe: Retaliation is if you’ve either walked into the wrong theater, rented the wrong DVD, or come with an impossible set of expectations. Nearly everyone involved in G.I. Joe: Retaliation has done what they can to ensure you have a good time and that you leave feeling entertained. This isn’t rocket science – it’s science-fiction action.
You see, by now, you should have realized that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is based on a set of popular children’s toys that originated in the 1960’s and enjoyed a resurgence in popularity in the 1980’s when the franchise came to television in the form of an animated series: G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero. That’s what brought me, as a young girl, to the action figures and the milieu of G.I. Joe.
It was still somewhat of a rarity at the time to see strong female characters on television, even in an animated series. Lady Jaye (played by Adrianne Palicki in the film) was a certifiable bad ass – one any formative young girl could look up to. That she not only makes an appearance in G.I. Joe: Retaliation but has a prominent role is absolutely freakin’ awesome.
The sound engineering in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is strikingly good and the action sequences in the film are noteworthy. I often wax poetic about the importance of action to the plot of the film, and in the case of G.I. Joe: Retaliation I feel we have a good example of how strong action sequences can serve the story and help reveal who the characters truly are.
Sure, the action can be over the top – a sequence in which Jinx and Snake Eyes attempt to abscond with the unconscious body of Storm Shadow comes to mind – but there is very little superfluous fighting or action in the film.
In a film billing itself as science-fiction action, you want to look at every moment of violence or action and ask if they serve a purpose. Often times, they don’t. To be a truly great action film, it’s simply not enough to throw your characters into every possible challenge to test them physically or mentally. You need to show that there are stakes, that there are risks, and at the end of it, your characters need to have grown or learned some lesson.
I’m smiling as I realize I’m about to write that in the case of G.I. Joe: Retaliation the characters don’t really seem to learn anything that they didn’t already know: they are real American heroes and they kick serious ass. Yes, that means that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is not a truly great action film, but that doesn’t mean it can’t entertain you.
Official site: G.I. Joe: Retaliation