G.I. Joe: Retaliation is one of those movies that almost completely ignores its predecessor. Like Predator 2 there is little connecting the two movies. Only a few actors reprise their role. Channing Tatum is one of them and gets killed within 15 minutes. It’s understandable since the first movie was a critical failure but somehow managed to make enough money to warrant a sequel. There’s a new director on board and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson gets to be the star. Lately he seems to be the go to guy when it comes to inject sequels with new blood. He’s popped up in the Fast & Furious franchise as well as Journey 2.
I didn’t remember a lot of the original movie as it was released 4 years ago and was pretty mediocre. This movie does stand fairly on its own, at least it did for me since I grew up with the cartoon in the 80’s. All you have to know is that there’s a terrorist organization named Cobra which have replaced the President of The United States with Zartan; master of disguise. He sets up an elaborate plan to take down the “Joes”, an elite combat team, and to rule the world with a machine that reminded me of Goldeneye.
I enjoyed G.I. Joe: Retaliation on a basic level. It has some fun moments and some inventive action scenes but still leans too much on CG effects. There is a character named Firefly who uses tiny CG Firefly robots as a weapon and Zartan’s disguise of the President consists of Nano-bots. All elements that are shown in close-up but fail to impress and actually felt like pure exposition.
Most of the cast members have been tossed aside. Of those returning the most notable is Channing Tatum who was originally going to be killed off within the first 10 minutes but since he became an A-list movie star between the two films they added some scenes making it 15 minutes before they kill him off. The extra scenes provide nothing to the movie, though they are a bit fun, especially the shooting scene between Johnson and Tatum had me laughing.
The makers did the right thing by having both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow return. They both were the more popular characters of the cartoon and previous movie. Cobra Commander now looks more like his cartoon version with a big mirror mask. Next to Dwayne Johnson there are some other interesting new faces as well: Bruce Willis pops up as the original Joe and his character is basically the same as his character in R.E.D. Retired, but extremely dangerous. His part is a glorified cameo for the finale just like Chuck Norris in The Expendables 2, so it’s a bit deceiving that both he and Tatum are so prominently on the poster.
It’s a decent fun action flick, better than the original, but still not a movie worthy of the G.I. Joe monicker. Somehow it seems to be really difficult to create movies out of saturday morning cartoons that actually please both crowds and critics.