It may have been scandalously positioned in the market for maximum effect – but there’s been worse ways to spend a of couple hours at your local multiplex.
A) Draft in one of Hollywood’s most bankable rising stars in Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Check. B) Delay it by nine months to convert to 3D, thus maximising profitability. Check. C) Keep some familiar faces (Channing Tatum, Snake Eyes etc) seemingly unscathed by the original, then reboot (kind of) the franchise. Check. D) Stick in Bruce Willis for ten minutes to add a touch of (even though slightly waning) respectability. Check.
The film itself is fortunately a marked improvement over 2009’s tepid – yet profitable – original, with some great action set-pieces that make it a watchable, if predictable, action romp, based on Hasbro’s famous American action figures (which were known for multiple years as Action Force this side of the pond).
Dennis Quaid, Sienna Miller and Marlon Wayans have disappeared into thin air without a mention, replaced by the likes of Johnson’s Roadblock – Duke’s (Tatum) right-hand man – the extremely wooden DJ Cotrona as Flint, and the rather sexy Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye, as producers retain a touch of continuity while slightly shifting the tone.
With Cobra Commander and Destro detained in a high-security facility, master of disguise Zartan (The Mummy’s Arnold Vosloo) – with the aid of Firefly (Ray Stevenson) and Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) – has infiltrated the US government by portraying himself as the President (Jonathan Pryce), and taken on the mantle of Cobra’s interim leader in the process.
Under the guise of the world’s most powerful man, he then attacks the covert army squad, known as the ‘Joes’, by setting them up – and leaving them for dead.
But when Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and original GI Joe himself, Bruce Willis’ General Joe Colton, join forces with what’s left of the team, they must quickly regroup to take out Zartan before he wipes out the world’s nuclear threat – leaving Cobra controlling the remaining atomic weapons and the entire planet.
Again, like he’s done in countless movies (like Fast Five, Journey 2 etc), Dwayne Johnson provides an amiable presence – even though he’ll soon turn into an action stereotype if he doesn’t watch out – with the rest of the cast doing their best with the generic script and stale dialogue.
But it’s some terrific set pieces that help eradicate the film’s flaws, as Retaliation does exactly what it says on the proverbial tin – nothing less, nothing more.
Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Jonathan Pryce, DJ Cotrona, Ray Stevenson, Arnold Vosloo, Walton Goggins, Ray Park, Byung-hun Lee, Elodie Yung, Luke Bracey, Joseph Mazzello, RZA
Running Time: 1hr 45mins
Director: Jon M Chu [youtube id=”NAh5lSmDk9Y” width=”600″ height=”350″]