March 28, 2013
New 'G.I. Joe' movie is idiotic
By BRUCE KIRKLAND - Toronto Sun
A decade ago, Hasbro's G.I. Joe action figures were enshrined in the National Toy Hall of Fame in Rochester, New York. I can guarantee, after seeing G.I. Joe: Retaliation, that nothing similar will happen to the current movie franchise. No fame in this game.
Yes, yes, I know that the first movie -- Stephen Sommers' G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra in 2009 -- was more fun to watch than most of the crap that you find in this, the military arm of the B-movie action genre.
Yes, yes, I acknowledge that the sequel is superior on a technical level, because more money was obviously spent on special effects and action sequences.
Yes, yes, it is always a treat to see Dwayne (The Rock) Johnson strut his stuff, in this case as the Joe nicknamed Roadblock.
But G.I. Joe: Retaliation is just obnoxiously loud, over-plotted, idiotic and tiresome most of the time. Except for one spectacular mountaintop sequence: this balletic aerial battle scene finally gives ninjas something new to do. Of course, this action eye candy has little to do with the rest of the movie, aside from getting Storm Shadow relocated from Asia to the U.S.
Retaliation was directed by American filmmaker Jon M. Chu, who helmed two Step Up sequels. His G.I. Joe movie was more challenging. The planned 2012 release was pushed to 2013 to convert Retaliation from 2D to 3D. There were also rumours of reshoots (denied by Chu). Meanwhile, G.I. Joe fans have endlessly speculated on the fate of Channing Tatum's character, Duke.
The Retaliation screenplay comes from the Zombieland team, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. It is disappointing these guys did not hardwire their Joe flick with more of the cynical sarcasm that makes Zombieland so engaging.
As it stands, Retaliation is generic. So much so that the central story device -- the Joes are set up for extermination and alienated from America by a devious Cobra plot involving the U.S. president -- feels like a rerun of other action movies.
Ditto for the action sequences, which look like updates from Roger Moore's Bond movies. There is even a former Bond villain, albeit from Pierce Brosnan's Tomorrow Never Dies. Welshman Jonathan Pryce, the evil media mogul who defied 007, plays the U.S. president and his doppelganger in Retaliation.
The acting is as generic as the plot. Led by Johnson with a cameo from Tatum, the ensemble includes Byung-hun Lee, Adrianne Palicki, Elodie Yung, D.J. Cotrona, Ray Stevenson, Ray Park, Luke Bracey as Cobra Commander and a squinty-eyed Bruce Willis as the gun-happy guest star.
If G.I. Joe is going to thrive as a franchise, the producers need to energize future movies with some new ideas. Otherwise, boys will just go back to playing with their Hasbro toys.