Directed by: John Chu
Starring: The Rock, Bruce Willis, Adrianne Palicki
The first GI Joe missed the mark in so many ways. It didn’t satisfy hardcore Joe fans because so much of what the comic book and TV series were had fallen away and it didn’t satisfy action junkies because it was just too campy. John Chu set out to right the wrongs of the first film with this sequel and he brought in big guns The Rock and Bruce Willis to help him succeed.
When I heard that John Chu had been tapped to direct the sequel to GI Joe: Rise of Cobra my first thought was “put a nail in the coffin for this franchise”. GI Joe was never a comic or TV series I was invested in as a kid so I’m on the fence as far as the importance of the franchise succeeding from a nostalgia perspective but from the space of an action junkie I’d love to see the franchise gain some momentum. It turns out that John Chu, the man responsible for the Step Up franchise, is a big time GI Joe fan and he brought his enthusiasm for the comic and characters to this sequel along with his experience in choreography. Yes in Step Up he worked with over the top dance scenes but it’s not hard to see how that experience would translate into cool fight scenes. To that end, as a whole, the fight scenes in this film are fantastic. The ninja scenes in particular are just fantastic. There are just a few CGI choices that don’t work as well as they should have and one odd costuming choice but overall this is great stuff. These could be moving comic book panels.
The story of GI Joe: Retaliation is dumb but not so much so that you feel dumb watching it. It wears its comic book melodrama and over the top patriotism on its chest for the world to see. There’s no pretense here; the movie is meant to be a blast for a younger audience and a nostalgia kick for older fans. The action other than fight scenes is well executed and a roller coaster ride for sure. This over the top action is what The Rock should be doing. He should be this generations’ Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bruce Willis is also good fun in this movie. He actually appears to have a bit of fun in this role which is something that hasn’t been apparent in several of his recent films. I’m not clear on his feeling about Looper but the movie is fantastic nonetheless.
This movie is campy and simple but it’s entertaining. Cobra finally looks and acts like a real villain and the cast of heroes are truly heroic. The filmmakers and marketing team also played a nice trick on us back when they delayed the release of this movie for the 3-D conversion leading to an opening scene twist that’s ballsy for this franchise. The 3-D actually works pretty great throughout the movie with the ninjas on the side of a mountain being the highlight of the film as far as the 3-D experience. If you’re a fan of the franchise or someone just looking for some mindless fun then this one is a must see.