Let's go Joe!
Feeling more like reboot than a sequel, G.I. Joe Retaliation stars Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock who takes command of the Real American Heroes after a set-up leaves many soldiers dead and the remaining on the run from their own country. Returning from the first film: Channing Tatum as Duke, masked butt-kicker Ray Park as Snake Eyes and Jonathan Pryce as the president. Newcomers Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and D.J. Cotrona as Flint just follow orders. As a movie, Retaliation is popcorn fun, ditching Rise of the Cobra's misplaced serious tone for a more straightforward sense of honor and duty.
Of course Roadblock gets a chance to return to his old stomping ground to get back to the basics! Why wouldn't Lady Jaye ditch her camos for a killer red dress?! Don't take any of it seriously. Sometimes there really isn't any hidden meaning; sometimes a Call of Duty-like gun that "finds" baddies is just that. In short, the more you know! Still, there are plenty of reasons that make Retaliation a much better adventure than the previous film.
1. Tatum and Johnson Make a Fun Duo: Jon M. Chu had previously directed two Step Up films so besides delivering fight scenes that are fun to watch—unfortunately, no battle in the rain!—he had already worked with Tatum in SU2: The Streets. Tatum was barely SU2 and he doesn't have a ton of screen time in Retaliation, but both make great use of the former dancer's hunky aw-shucks persona. For all the machismo and over-the-top spectacle, one of the best moments is Tatum and Johnson playing a first person shooter together.
2. Unlike Rise of the Cobra, Retaliation Feels Like G.I. Joe: The first film was stale, feeling more like a late '90s wannabe blockbuster than a true ode to a Saturday morning cartoon. Retaliation feels like a G.I. Joe world with all gadgets and the way Cobra slithers into all areas of warfare. Wait until you see what the doomsday device H.I.S.S. stands for!
3. Bruce Willis Makes a Cool, Albeit Brief, Appearance: By now, most have seen the trailer showing Roadblock saying he knows at least one guy he team can turn to; the scene then cuts to Bruce Willis firing an automatic rifle from the back of a truck in slow motion. He's no John McLane, but as General 'Joe' Colton, Willis gives the five-star retiree a tough but firm sense of humor. Maybe he is like the Die Harder, after all. Also, memorable: Walton Goggins as the warden of super villains and RZA as a blind shogun master. You read that right.
4. No Politics, Please: The less you take anything in the Joe universe seriously, the better. The plot revolves around POTUS being replaced by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) who used nanotech to look and sound him. Jonathan Pryce plays both the kidnapped president and the diabolical imposter. We never even know if the commander-in-chief is a democrat or republican—only that Roadblock voted for him. Go save the leader of the free world, Joe!
5. A True Cliffhanger That Features No Dialogue: The film's highpoint is when Cobra soldier Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) is taken for an insane rock-climbing ride while unconscious. Good guys Jinx (Elodie Yung) and Snake Eyes must evade a horde of ninjas, swinging from precipice to precipice and somehow keeping their human-size luggage from falling too. No guns, no words, just two teams doing their best to outwit and outlast each other. Awesome.
Are you going to give G.I Joe a chance to get it right this weekend? Sound off in the comments!