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‘G.I. Joe: Retaliation’ Review: Chu’s Action Can’t Beat Dumb Plot

The good news is that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is 10x better than the original, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra; the bad news is that even behind all the muscular and handsome talent, the film is still not great.

To give you a little background, the film’s release date was delayed eight months so that it could be converted into 3D. I did not see it in 3D because it wasn’t shot that way, so I paid for the traditional 2D ticket and from what I could tell, its not a movie that would benefit from 3D.

Retaliation picks up right where Cobra left off, even though we have a lot of new faces in the Joes including Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (D.J. Cotrona). Duke (Channing Tatum) leads the Joes as they are on a mission to secure a nuclear weapon from Pakistan. An attack occurs during their mission and the Joes are framed by Zartan, the bad guy who is impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). So now the Joes have their work cut out for them since they hunting their mortal enemy Cobra and trying to figure out who in the government wants them dead.

Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson) break Cobra Commander out of his water-tank cell and the trio head out to seek world enslavement, but it also seems like they have their own agendas in mind. Like I said, its really confusing and I’m not going to even pretend that I really knew everything that was going on.

The fighting scenes are gripping and the special effects are top-notch. Several of the fight scenes were enhanced digitally, but it’s hard to tell with the fluid camera shots. Director Jon Chu (2011’s Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) knows how to shoot action scenes and keep the momentum up, but Retaliation’s plot is way confusing and I hate to say it…boring.

I’m not sure how screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick screwed this up because the two of them managed to create an excellent screenplay for 2009’s Zombieland (one of my favorite movies). There are several times throughout the film that I questioned what was going on, who was good, who was bad and that should not be happening in an action flick of this nature. The less convoluted an action flick is, the better. Too many new characters were introduced nearly all at the same time in Retaliation and with half of the characters looking like Power Rangers, it’s hard to tell who is who.

Since the script is terrible, Chu is lucky to have charismatic actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Bruce Willis in here, both make any film better. Johnson always has an amazing presence on the big screen and Willis, who maybe has 10 minutes of screen time in Retaliation, creates the fun and memorable General Joe Colton, the man the Joes are named after.

Fans of G.I. Joe will be happy to see that this film franchise has improved from the original, but that’s not saying much. The Rock and Willis are the best parts of the movie and if that’s good enough for you then you may actually enjoy it.

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