There was much hype for the 2009 film G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra, but sadly the film did not meet most of the fans expectations, but still managed to do well enough at the box office to warrant a sequel. Clearly they listened to the outcry, because with the next entry in the series G.I. JOE: Retaliation they ditched most of the original cast and started fresh complete with Dwayne Johnson in the lead and what looked to be a new tone to the overall series. Could this finally be the G.I. JOE film fans have been waiting for or will it not be worth the battle?
G.I. JOE: Retaliation follows the remaining JOE team members on the run and trying to clear their name for crimes against the country thanks to Zartan still impersonating the president and working alongside Cobra. While there are some issues here and there with this entry into the series, this film is miles above the Rise of Cobra. For those not clear, this is not a reboot, but a direct sequel that just so happens to be changing things up for the better. While the film still focuses on the JOE’s as a team make no mistake, this is Johnson’s show and he was born to play Roadblock in every way. He is clearly having a great time here and it just makes the film more enjoyable. Sure there are some funny moments, but gone is the constant gags and silliness for the most part. While not in it all that much, Tatum does a better job with the Duke character here and a lot of that has to do with not just his improvement as an actor, but his chemistry with Johnson. The rest of the JOE’s aren’t given all that much to do other than fill space and fight, with the exception of Snake Eyes who gets to not only continue his conflict with Storm Shadow, they step it up a bit to please all the ninja fans. What really makes this feel more like a G.I. JOE movie than anything else is Cobra, most notable Cobra Commander. Not only does he look the part, when he is on screen he just feels epic. While the ninjas and Cobra Commander are awesome it’s Ray Stevenson’s Firefly that kicks the most ass. He brings that character to life like no other and is clearly having a great time with it.
One of the issues is the addition of Bruce Willis to the cast. Make no mistake, he does a fine job and usually Bruce makes everything better, but this clear attempt at getting some credibility in the disguise of a homage was really not all the necessary, but still fun to watch for the small amount of time he is there. The biggest issue here is the build-up to very little. As the film progresses you get the feeling there is a big world dominating plot that Cobra is planning and everything they say and do shows that is the case, until you get to the end. Within minutes they are able to foil the plan without much effort. Make no mistake the ride getting there and the over the top action throughout still make it worth the ride, but still wish there had been a bigger ending. This may not be the perfect G.I. JOE film the hardcore fans have been hoping for, but it is clearly in the right direction. Remember, if you head into this film knowing it’s a fun summer popcorn action film full of nostalgia that is sure to make the inner 80s kid inside of you smile, then you are sure to have a great time and knowing is half the battle.