Many believe that hiring Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock, to star in 2011’s Fast Five, was the genius idea that salvaged a flagging franchise. The same trick, however, doesn’t work for GI Joe: Retaliation which, as it turns out, is even more awful than 2009’s disappointing GI Joe: Rise of the Cobra. While you can’t really be surprised by the absence of compelling characters or the lack of emotional depth in the story – given that the GI Joe films are based on a kid’s toy – there’s no excuse why Retaliation is such a dull enterprise, or why it doesn’t even deliver a sense of guilty pleasure.
If only the plot made a smidgen of sense!
A team of super-soldiers or GI Joes led by Duke (Channing Tatum) is framed for the assassination of the Pakistani President. They’re attacked, left for dead, and branded enemies of the state by master-of-disguise Zartan who’s assumed the identity of the US President (Jonathan Pryce).
Conspiring with ruthless terrorist organization Cobra, Zartan instigates a diabolical plan involving all the world’s leaders and an international nuclear summit.
It’s now left to a trio of surviving Joes (Dwayne Johnson, Adrienne Palicki and DJ Cotrona) who enlist the help of a retired soldier (Bruce Willis) in their mission to stop Zartan before he goes too far.
They must also make peace with a masked ninja called Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee), whose role in this confusing script is one of many things that’s hard to follow.
More confusing than Kangana Ranaut’s accent, the film’s storyline is a convoluted mess, and the dialogues are appallingly lazy even by action-movie standards. This dense script nevertheless manages to pack in wall-to-wall fight sequences that are surprisingly underwhelming because director Jon Chu never stops to show us the repercussions of the violence. So people are stabbed, chopped, sliced, and shot but I can’t remember seeing any blood whatsoever.
The actors are on autopilot mode, failing to rise above the ridiculous material. Dwayne Johnson, ever the likeable presence, appears trapped under the weight of this incoherent script.
The only bit worth watching is a breathtaking set-piece in the snowy Himalayas in which Snake Eyes and Jinx must face off against a bunch of ninjas. This sequence, involving cable chases and scaling the sides of mountains, lasts about six minutes and looks incredibly thrilling in 3D.
GI Joe: Retaliation feels way longer than its running time. It’s an exercise in futility; a film that has no business existing in the first place. I’m going with one out of five. Stay home and take a nap instead.