By Gary Murray

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis and D.J. Cotrona

Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick

Directed by Jon M. Chu

Running time 110 min

MPAA Rating PG-13

Selig Film Rating Cable


When I was a little kid, GI Joe was one of my favorite toys.   This was the first full-sized action figure that everyone referred to as a ‘boy doll’.  The toy has gone through different generations, changing and evolving with each generation of kids. 

Hollywood has always been looking for whatever source to make movies.  They have turns such toys as Battleship and Transformers into films.  It would make sense to turn GI Joe into a film.  The first one was a 2009 flick called The Rise of CobraGI Joe: Retaliation is the sequel. 

The film starts with the GI Joes breaking into a North Korean stronghold and performing a rescue and getting a bunch of nukes from the bad guys.  The Joes are hailed as heroes by the president (Jonathan Pryce).  But all is not as it seems.

We soon find that the president is not who he appears to be and that there is a giant plan being designed by Cobra.  Soon, the GI Joes are attacked and presumed dead.  Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) is the leader and decides that the rest of the surviving Joes need to stay dead and try and find out what is happening. 

The film becomes a ‘rally the troops’ flick where different GI Joe agents must band together to figure out the nefarious plans and stop the forces of Cobra in their attempt to take over the world.  What the story becomes is a bare-bones plot to hang action pieces on.

There are many rumors flying around the film.  It was supposed to be released in the summer of 2012 and was pulled for a myriad of reasons from the 3D not working to additional scenes of Channing Tatum to be added.  There was also the idea of avoiding competition with Magic Mike.   

As it stands, the film has many problems.  It is in a forced 3D process which makes the film look cloudy.  The final product is ugly to look at and there is little reason to pay extra for the effect.

The feeling of the entire work is more along the lines of an old Saturday serial from decades ago.  The cliff-hanger aspects do work but much of the action is disjointed.  It is more action for action than to drive the plot along.

There are some impressive bits of action.  The highlight of the film is a capture of one individual from an Asian monastery.  There are repelling Ninja warriors who swoop and sway along a mountainside.   It is the big stunt sequence that seamlessly blends CGI and stunt work into a scene that could have been taken from some James Bond flick.  Director Jon M. Chu does a functional job with the action; he just needs a solid script to work with.

Dwayne Johnson does a serviceable job as Roadblock, but it feels as if we have seen this character dozens of times before from The Rock.  It is a standard action character in a standard action flick, nothing too special.

Bruce Willis plays General Joseph Colton, the original GI Joe.  This is the type of role the actor excels in and here he does much of what one expects.  It almost feels as if he is channeling his character from Red.  Again, it is something we have seen many times before.

The most interesting performance was Storm Shadow played by Byung-hun Lee.  There is this pathos in his eyes, as if something more is going on under the surface of his character.  He kicks butt in a way that brings some much needed excitement to the proceedings.  A great film could easily be built with him as a singular character.

Since it is a sequel, the question is “How does it hold up against the original?”  A better question would be ‘Does it stand-up on its own?”  It does not have the charm of the first film and it almost falls apart without seeing the first film.  It is definitely the second and lesser adventure. 

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