G.I. Joe: Retaliation actually isn’t a terrible movie, thanks in large part to Dwayne Johnson, and a fair step up from Rise of the Cobra but it’s still a relatively generic action movie with nothing discernibly memorable about the action set pieces or the standard plot itself. Even so, Retaliation is worth a one-time viewing especially if you’re a fan of the “G.I. Joe” franchise.
Genre(s): Action, Adventure
Paramount | PG13 – 110 min. – $54.99 | July 30, 2013
Directed by: Jon M. Chu
Writer(s): Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick (written by)
Cast: D.J. Cotrona, Byung-Hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Ray Stevenson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson
Theatrical Release Date: March 28, 2013
Features: Commentary, Featurettes, Deleted Scenes, DVD Copy, UltraViolet, Digital Copy
Number of Discs: 3
Audio: English (Dolby TrueHD 7.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1), Portuguese (Dolby Digital 5.1)
Video: 1080p/Widescreen 2.40
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Disc Size: 42.0 GB (3D BD), 39.9 GB (2D BD)
Codec: MPEG-4 AVC
Region(s): A, B, C
THE MOVIE – 2.75/5
Note: This review contains spoilers about the plot. Please go on to the features, video or audio sections if you don’t want to know about key plot elements.
As the end credits rolled, the song “How Do You Like Me Now?” by The Heavy played and I can’t help but think it was a message to the fans who either hated or loathed Rise of the Cobra. Indeed, that movie stunk so it’s really not a huge leap for its successor, G.I. Joe: Retaliation, to deliver a “better” movie but it’s really on a technicality.
When the film opens, we find the Joe’s, led by Duke (CHANNING TATUM), are in the DMZ North Korea where they’ve been tasked to infiltrate enemy territory and extract a defector. On the team with Duke are: Roadblock (DWAYNE JOHNSON) and Flint (D.J. COTRONA) are in charge of getting the target, Lady Jaye (ADRIANNE PALICKI) is the lookout and Mouse (JOSEPH MAZZELLO) is the sniper who helps distract the numerous armed guards. What does this have to do with the plot? Does this defector come in to play later on? Well, that would require a script with modicum of foresight…
We then get a nifty recap on the members of Joe and of Cobra so those who didn’t see Rise of the Cobra, or don’t care to remember and/or admit they saw it, can get a quick guide on who’s who. Later, and getting to the meat, so to speak, of the plot when the President (JONATHAN PRYCE) orders the Joes to enter Pakistan to secure their nuclear weapons as the country is in unrest. The Joes do a superb job killing numerous enemies and taking minimal casualties on their side. In the desert, their celebration is cut short when they come under attack by their own taking out everyone in the squadron, including Duke, leaving only Duke, Flint and Jaye the remaining Joes on duty.
It becomes painfully obvious who was responsible: the President himself who is in fact Cobra operative Zartan (ARNOLD VOSLOO in what amounts to a brief cameo) using nanobytes to disguise himself as the Commander in Chief while keeping the real Prez held captive in a dungeon; and having the complete loyalty of Cobra henchmen serving his personal security detail… Part of the objective is also to break the previously captured Cobra Commander (LUKE BRACEY) from a secret underground prison using Storm Shadow (BYUNG-HUN LEE) to help… In the process, however, he is severely burned and is sent to some monastery in Japan to heal.
Now it’s up to Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jaye – along with Snake Eyes (RAY PARK) and Jinx (ELODIE YUNG) in a B-plotline involving Storm Shadow – to stop Cobra Commander from his dastardly plan to… yep, rule the world. Well, if it’s good enough for a James Bond movie, one can’t criticize it here either. Anyway, the three Joes also enlist the help of the original G.I. Joe: General Joe Colton (BRUCE WILLIS) now retired living in a quant suburban community.
So, let’s get something straight up front: G.I. Joe: Retaliation isn’t a good movie. I know, shocker given the high quality of its predecessor, but that being said, it’s at least a meandering action movie. No, there’s nothing particularly memorable about it; having watched this both in the theater in March and on Blu-ray a few days ago, I cannot even recall any one of the numerous action sequences. So strike one is, generic action scenes that’s hard to distinguish from the many others, though at least the production design and stunt work is better.
On the casting side of things, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but if not for Dwayne Johnson, this would’ve been a disaster of a movie. Despite being a new character, along with Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona and Elodie Yung, he brings an immediate and strong bad ass presence in what amounts to the lead role. Between this and the Fast and Furious franchise, it’s twice now he’s injected some much needed energy in to the sequels.
The other cast members do an adequate job, all things considered, from Palicki playing up the tough sexpot; Cotrona the generic action guy who I honestly couldn’t tell you anything about; Ray Stevenson using a laughable Southern drawl but still a bad ass; and that guy in the Cobra Command mask which I admit was kind of fun in his introduction with a POV shot inside the mask. I’d also remiss in not mentioning Channing Tatum but as has been reported during the film’s year long delay, Tatum’s star was on the rise so the filmmakers wanted some more footage before his untimely demise.
In addition to three new protagonists (who never appeared in the first film), Retaliation also got a new director Jon M. Chu taking over from popcorn flick master Stephen Sommers (see The Mummy franchise). What makes Chu’s hiring is a resume which includes Step Up 2 & 3 (the former had a cameo from Tatum) and the concert feature, Justin Bieber: Never Say Never.
On the whole, although G.I. Joe: Retaliation is just as ordinary as its subtitle, the cast are fun to watch and the film itself makes for a decent way to spend 100-minutes if you just want to have a good time without having to think about a whole lot, and I wouldn’t considering some of the plot elements are at best inane.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.25/5
This 3D Blu-ray combo pack comes with a lenticular slip cover. Inside the standard Blu-ray case are the 3D Blu-ray, 2D Blu-ray and a DVD Copy. There’s also a download code for the standard Digital Copy and an UltraViolet version as well.
All the features are contained on the standard Blu-ray disc.
Audio Commentary – Director Jon M. Chu is joined by Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura in a track where the pair chat up about various on-set anecdotes, working with the actors and revealing the different locations in New Orleans to take place around the world.
G.I. Joe: Declassified (1:12:56; HD) – This is an 8-part making-of featurette covering all aspects of making the film, providing some fun behind-the-scenes footage alongside interviews with the cast and crew as they talk about the characters, shooting in New Orleans and/or plot. If only other action movies received this treatment.
Segments: “Mission Briefing”, “Deployment”, “Two Ninjas”, “The Desert Attack”, “Cobra Strikes”, “The Lone Soldiers”, “The Monastery” and “Ford Sumter”.
Deleted Scenes (3:59; HD) – Only three scenes were included here but with an “Extended Action Cut” being released at Best Buy, there’s probably more.
VIDEO – 3.75/5
The 3D transfer is decent albeit not overly impressive compared with other releases. I did check out this film in 3D at the theater and while there it wasn’t an incredible job, though it was better than Iron Man 3, it seems to translate well on the smaller screen. Given this was a post-conversion job, and at least the reason why it was delayed by a year, it’s an impressive enough job done, although hardly the best I’ve seen thus far.
AUDIO – 5.0/5
The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 track is in a word, righteous, delivering the loud yet expansive experience one would expect from an action-adventure flick. However, even the lower ends like dialogue sounds great while the LFE channel also gets subtle use providing a nice depth without being overdone or excessive. The rear speakers get some good use with ambient noises, explosions and gunfire while the center speaker provides for the central on-screen action. Without a doubt, this is reference material.
OVERALL – 3.5/5
Overall, G.I. Joe: Retaliation actually isn’t a terrible movie, thanks in large part to Dwayne Johnson, and a fair step up from Rise of the Cobra but it’s still a relatively generic action movie with nothing discernibly memorable about the action set pieces or the standard plot itself. Even so, Retaliation is worth a one-time viewing especially if you’re a fan of the “G.I. Joe” franchise. The 3D Blu-ray combo pack offers an adequate 3D transfer while the features are pretty well detailed.