G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013) Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jonathan Pryce, Lee Byung-hun, Elodie Yung, Ray Stevenson, D.J. Cotrona, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum, Ray Park, Luke Bracey and Bruce Willis. Screenplay by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick. Directed by Jon M. Chu. Produced by Lorenzo di Bonaventura, Brian Goldner. Run Time: 110 minutes. Color. U.S. Science Fiction, Action.
Rarely are sequels better than originals. But that is not to say G.I. Joe: Retaliation is better than mediocre fare. The film, while a continuation of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009), is a virtual recast from top to bottom. In fact, only four actors make it from Rise to Retaliation: Jonathan Pryce, Lee Byung-hun, Ray Park and Channing Tatum.
Gone are Marlon Wayans, Sienna Miller, Christopher Eccleston, Rachel Nichols, Dennis Quaid, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje and Joseph Gordon-Levitt and for the most part good riddance. It’s sad to say, but the acting is better in the sequel. However, with the changes come plot holes that are never resolved, nor even addressed. It’s as if they didn’t expect you to have seen the original or if you had, hoped the convening years would have made you forget characters like Ripcord (Marlon Wayans) and the Baroness (Sienna Miller).
The character of Cobra Commander also makes it to the sequel, but Joseph Gordon-Levitt has been replaced by a mask-wearing Luke Bracey. The Cobra Commander’s plan, once he escapes from prison is, well, what else, to rule the world.
The additions to the cast include Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock, Duke’s (Channing Tatum) good friend. Bruce Willis as the original Joe, General Joe Colton, plays a character not too dissimilar to the one he played in RED, a retired, but still dangerous guy and one you’d want to have on your side in a fight. But the original Joe is not really teamed with Roadblock. Rather, he fights with new recruit Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), whom he insists on calling Brenda. The other new member of the troop is Flint (D.J. Cotrona).
|Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) is one of the new additions to the cast of Joes.|
With the change in cast, the internationalism of the G.I. Joes is one of the casualties. For the most part they are an American outfit, though there are Japanese Ninja members, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung), a new recruit. It becomes clear that the Joes report to the President of the United States. Since this is a film currently in theaters, there will be not a synopsis, except to say the President of the United States’s (Jonathan Pryce) switcheroo at the end of The Rise of Cobra does have much to do with the plot of Retaliation.
|Snake Eyes (Ray Park) trains new recruit Jinx (Elodie Yung).|
While special effects are used to make up for the lack of things like believable plot, they are much more subdued than they were in the first film. Gone, for the most part, are the nanomites, though they’re replaced by exploding fireflies which are controlled by a new character, cleverly enough named Firefly (Ray Stevenson), a loyal member of Cobra.
|Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) and his loyal minion Firefly (Ray Stevenson)|
The ninjas Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun) are at it again and at each other’s throats in one of the better sequences of the film. The action is better as well, easier to follow though sometimes it goes over the top, way over the top, and pushes the boundaries of credibility. And it doesn’t just push the envelope, it rips it open and cancels the stamp.
|Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow continue their fighting in one of the film's better sequences.|
The release of Retaliation was pushed back several months from last summer to now partly so that it could be revamped for 3-D. The effect is interesting and even though it is used subtly the gimmick isn’t enough to save the picture.
If you must see a G.I. Joe movie this is the better of the two. But don’t worry, if you miss this one, like a streetcar, there will be another one along in a few years. Retaliation seriously lays down the premise of a third film. Maybe the third time will prove to be the charm.