G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an incredibly anti-American film that answers the question, What kind of movie would Dick Cheney make if he had 100 million dollars and some LSD?
This pseudo-patriotic piece of jingoism is obviously intended for young, unquestioning audiences but is too violent and distorted for them to process with any part of their psyche left unimpacted. The message here is that when you are on a mission, you should kill anyone who gets in your way, even if they are law enforcement agents, foreign allies or brother soldiers duped into serving the bad guys. Who created the mission and for what purpose are irrelevant. The main thing is the mission and, well, shooting cool guns. Message number two is that sword-swinging ninjas are the supreme warriors in modern military combat.
Dwayne Johnson heads the cast of ripped killers in what is basically an X-Men movie with elite American soldiers standing in for outcast mutants with superpowers. As an X-Men movie, the jingoism would have been greatly diminished and relegated to the realm of fantasy, but by tying the deeds to our men and women in the military and to realistic political leaders, it taints the whole affair as reality-based cinematic wish-fulfillment.
The film dismisses America’s allies and enemies alike as inferior, incompatible and inconvenient to the American way of life. It even demolishes one entire country in a casual feat of CGI destruction, creating a whole other level of nightmare for susceptible younger viewers—especially those with relatives in that country.
Even more disturbing, witnessing the slaughter of American soldiers in the Middle East is probably not the greatest movie-going experience for young viewers who have parents or relatives serving in that theater—or who have lost family members in military actions there. It seems an imprudent choice for the film’s young target audience.
The plot launches with the news that a rogue element of the American military has assassinated the Pakistani President, a real-life ally already on tenterhooks with our government. Even worse, the story has the American government respond to this outrage by sending a full military force to invade Pakistan’s sovereignity and seize all of its nukes because America “has doubts” our brown-skinned ally is competent to continue safeguarding them without its President. Much shooting ensues, to the obvious enjoyment of the Joes, with no Pakistani guards left alive.
America needs to remember that the message it puts out to the world, even through its movies, may come back to haunt us and our forces serving overseas. The film repeatedly belittles the leader of North Korea and implies the destruction of North Korea is a top U.S. priority. Curiously, the same week G.I. Joe: Retaliation opened, North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, a leader who shares his bellicose father’s love of movies and basketball, promised “all-out nuclear war” with the United States if U.S. “provocations” reoccur. To the paranoid mind of an isolated cinephile, who can say what is considered a provocation.
This ugly, jingoistic movie is sure to offend America’s international friends and allies, inflame its enemies and disturb the fragile young minds that are its target market.
Like the beautiful G.I. Joe soldier Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), there is a noticeable mole on the face of this movie. It distracts from whatever physical appeal exists by invoking the suspicion of a tumor. In this case, that dark excrescence is unquestionably malignant.