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Movie Review - G.I Joe: Retaliation

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G.I. Joes were among the most popular toys of the 80’s and early 90’s (including with this critic) so a big budget Hollywood action flick based on the toy line was bound to happen. That film happened in 2009 and to pretty much no one’s surprise it was wasn’t very good (though it wasn’t all bad either), but still made loads of cash at the box office. And now we have a sequel that promises to be bigger and better, by replacing much of the cast, adding superstars Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis to the mix and raising the stakes with the threat of nuclear war.



Well, these changes were clearly not a bad idea as G.I. Joe: Retaliationis in fact a considerable improvement over the first film. This can largely be attributed to director Jon M. Chu whose background in dance movies (including Step Up 2 The Streets and Step Up 3D) is clearly a strength as he brings a lot of fluidity and dance-like grace to many of the action scenes. He doesn’t cut too fast or shake the camera, everything is clearly shot when it needs to be, and he moves things at a solid pace for the most part. This is especially clear in the film’s best scene in which a couple of our heroes battle an army of ninjas while hanging from a cliff (and carrying an unconscious body in a bag).


The cast also helps. Dwayne Johnson is charming/badass as always and adds much-needed personality to the proceedings (even making some lame one-liners sort of work) and while Bruce Willis seems rather bored, he’s still Bruce Willis. But the best thing here is Jonathan Pryce, who only played the president in the first film but now gets a dual role of the president and man pretending to be the president. He has a field day as the baddie and fares much better than he did as a Bond villain in Tomorrow Never Dies. Also worth noting is Walton Goggins (whom some of you may remember from Django Unchained) in a small but lively turn as a prison warden of sorts.

Still, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is basically a piece of trash. It doesn’t make a lick of sense, the humor is juvenile and the dialogue often ridiculously silly. This is very much a real-life cartoon of sorts and not supposed to be anything more than it is, and you can only tolerate a certain amount of dumbness. Thankfully G.I. Joe: Retaliation is rarely *that* dumb and maintains the right tone for the most part, not taking itself too seriously and keeping things moderately silly. It’s a film that’s totally aware of how dumb it is and revels in it, at times going all the way in being ridiculous (pretty much anything is possible in the world this film’s set in) without totally insulting your intelligence. It’s a hard feat to pull off and while G.I. Joe: Retaliation doesn’t entirely succeed (it gets a little monotonous in the final act) it does the trick well enough. A third film would not be unwelcome.

Final verdict: G.I. Joe: Retaliation is probably about as good as it could have been, being what it is. The phrase “Big dumb fun” was created for films like this one. Director Jon M. Chu brings dance-like grace and fluidity to the proceedings and together with a solid cast manages to make this big, dumb, silly and highly disposable film work.





Source: Filmophilia

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