GI Joe Retaliation: Quick action fix
MANILA, Philippines - It seemed that this film was doomed from the get-go. The first film in the franchise was no gem by any means, but it did fill that junk food fix that we look for in big summer movies.
Then "Retaliation's" release date started getting pushed back further and further. Rumors came out about the problematic script and the need for reshoots. Then there was the issue of upgrading to 3-D which delayed the release even more.
Be sure that all of these have factored into the quality of the film. It works, but it doesn't. It feels like a Frankenstein's monster of disparate parts that are thrown together, hulking awkwardly through its run time.
Which is to say that there are some parts that are visually brilliant, but it never really comes together into a sum of its parts.
The end of the first film teased this sequel, as it had the Joes triumphant but showed Cobra's master of disguise Zartan taking the place of the American president.
We pick up with the Joes as an elite combat unit (though primaries from the first film Scarlet and Ripcord are gone and their absence isn't explained) with Channing Tatum's Duke leading them on a couple of ops before they are burned.
News of Duke's offing sparked a lot of talk on the Net a long time ago, so it should not come as a surprise to fans. In any case, with that act all Joes from the original except Snake Eyes are out of the picture, and this is then picked up by the new cast, mostly The Rock and Adrianne Palicki as Roadblock and Lady Jane.
Flint, played by D.J. Cotrona, comes in here as a mostly insignificant character, just another guy on the team for Roadblock and Lady Jane to bounce off of.
The Joes get burned by the faux president, who has the entire unit attacked and killed. He then places Cobra as his new elite security force.
Much like "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol," the remaining Joes are forced to go rogue, restore the name of the G.I. Joes, and take down the president with all his resources.
This is actually surprisingly easy. All you need is an old dude who could have been anyone but in a bit of stunt casting happens to be Bruce Willis as "the reason they call themselves Joes" or some such nonsense.
Then a few ninjas. And a bunch of guns. You're all set to retake the world.
Speaking of ninjas, they are the best thing in the film.
The bad ninja stuff first though: there is an ill-imagined plot featuring the RZA as an old master tasking Snake Eyes and Jinx with restoring the honor of something or other, which involves capturing and bringing Storm Shadow to justice. Luckily, the timing is perfect because Storm Shadow has recently been injured.
This set up leads to an inexplicable team-up with Storm Shadow, a terrible reveal; I can only guess what they wanted to say. It works to push the story forward, but on larger thematic levels, as well as in terms of character and mythos, it makes no sense at all.
Then again so little of this film's plot developments and movements make an effort at making sense that I guess we have to accept it if we are to have any fun. Still, it did not sit well with me as a fan of the old cartoons.
Story-wise, the ninja stuff doesn't make much sense and it seems so far removed from the main story. I imagine that if this were a TV show these would be their own episodes; if not their own episode arcs.
But it is mashed in here with the whole ghost protocol thing.
Having said that it does not make sense, I love the massive ninja scenes.
Not just because they have ninjas, but because these feature the best set pieces and most visually arresting moments of the film.
While a lot of the action is captured really tight and shaky thus compromising the sense of space (further made problematic because I was forced to watch in the front row during an IMAX 3-D screening, making the images busier and blurrier), the big outdoor mountain range sequence lets the action breathe, shows grandiosity, and is downright awesome.
In the first film, Snake Eyes had his big moment on the van speeding through Paris. Here it is even bigger, as we have rappelling, jumping from mountain to mountain, fighting on these mountain faces and on ziplines, and all other manner of unconventional combat.
It's just an eye-popping sequence that I would watch the movie for.
Watch the trailer here:
The rest of the film is okay. There is entertaining, if forgettable, action.
The story doesn't ever come together. There is some character work wedged in, but it never really feels important or earned.
A lot was spent on production, on effects, on casting, and on big sequences and explosions. But far too little time was spent developing a good story or characters that we could really care about. Even the old cartoons put that work in. So while there's cool action and great scenes and stunts, it is very clear that as a franchise there is a lot of room for improvement.
For viewers looking for a quick action fix, it's alright. But for its scale, it just doesn't get as big or impressive as it should be. - Rappler.com
Carljoe Javier doesn't know why people think he's a snarky film critic who spends his time dashing the hopes of filmgoers. He thinks he's not all that bad, really. He teaches at the State U, writes books, and studies film, comics, and video games... Then again, those people could be right.