In the second act of GI Joe Retaliation there is a nine minute sequence without a single line of dialogue, where a Ninja has a machine gun swordfight with another Ninja and then scales a nearby mountain while simultaneously fighting multiple Ninjas leaping and swinging across the snowy peaks. It’s epic. It’s everything one wants to see in a GI Joe movie. It genuinely feels like the director has brought your childhood action figure battle between good guys and baddies to life on the big screen. But when this scene ends, so does everyone’s effort into making the movie.
GI Joe Retaliation tries to be a sequel and a reboot at the same time by desperately trying to extinguish our memories of the terrible first film. When The Rock was cast in the recent Fast and Furious movie, the move somehow breathed new life into the waning franchise. The same tactic is employed here, but sadly it fails and fails hard. Placing Jon Chu, the guy who made Step Up 2 The Streets and Justin Bieber Never Say Never in the director’s chair to correct the mistakes of the first GI Joe is a baffling move to begin with, but to cancel its release just days before it opens in theaters, and then delaying it by a year for post conversion to horrible 3D exhibits the delusional arrogance that thrives in major Hollywood studios. There was only one memorable part in the first film, where the Joes put on exoskeleton suits and engage in ridiculous stunts for an insane chase scene that culminates with the Eiffel Tower being destroyed. The sequel neither has any fun chase scenes, nor any snazzy gadgets that make the GI Joes look cool, all we get to see is a bunch of firearms in Bruce Willis’ kitchen.
The story picks up immediately after the events of Rise of the Cobra and the plot could very well have been written by a seven year old with his crayons. Cobra escapes imprisonment with the help of Storm Shadow, and the entire GI Joe unit is destroyed save for the trio of Roadblock (The Rock), Flint (Cotrona) and Jaye (Palicki). As Cobra attempts his master plan to take over the world, Snake Eyes teams up with Jinx to kidnap Shadow to extract information on his boss’ plans and help the Joes stop global annihilation. The lack of a decent story is generally compensated with great action scenes, but apart from the CGI mountain sequence there is literally nothing in GI Joe Retaliation to keep you entertained. One can’t look for logic or plausibility in a GI Joe movie but nano robots being used to impersonate the President of the United States who destroys every nuclear missile in the world with one button at a UN meeting is pushing it. Actually the movie could have been blazing fun had it all been knowingly, ludicrously over the top but it keeps offering grating back stories and daddy issues and over seriousness that seems frustratingly out of place in a story like this.
The 3D that allegedly took over a year to build makes GI Joe Retaliation look like a plastic dollhouse with flat cardboard cutouts as characters. The badass guitar crunching tone of Seven Nation Army that you saw in the trailer is misleading because the film is a misguided, tiresome mess that puts the bad in badass and the ass in badass. It’s the only movie ever produced that makes non-stop explosions and hand to hand combat seem really boring. Unless your sole intention is to see Adrianne Palicki in skimpy clothes in 3D, you’re better off spending your money on something more action packed, like a Nagraj comic for instance.
(First published in MiD Day)