G.I. Joe: Retaliation Reviews
All the potential that they had with the 1st one was completely wasted with the sequel. Don't think there will be a 3rd installment. If there is, count me out...
...or at least I will wait 'til Netflix... Either way, this one was trash.
G.I.: Retaliation almost has everything that the first film doesn't: enjoyable action sequences, a fairly understandable plot, more-than-passable performances from the cast, and characters that are actually pretty fun.
The story in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a poor one. Though it tries to hide it with the addition of some unconventionally ridiculous plot twists, the entire tale in G.I. Joe: Retaliation is such an obviously predictable one due to its abundance of familiar plot points. Even though G.I. Joe: Retaliation has a story which stretches from the heart of the American government to other countries, the scale of it all feels way too small. G.I. Joe: Retaliation should be a big scale action film, but it is far too obviously rooted in a dull story which puts too much focus on a select group of characters. Though viewers may find particular appeal with some of the cast members, the characters are extremely thinly sketched and in dire need of creativity if they want to actively carry the story anywhere. The dialogue is all cheap talk with the only moments of mild appeal coming from the scenes which try to depict a sense of lighthearted comic energy as that is the one moment where the film stops taking itself so seriously ad attempts to embrace its cheesy premise, but even then the jokes are hardly that funny and there is not nearly enough of them to transcend the rest of the poor writing. However, though the story is poor it is buried so heavily beneath the overwhelming quantity of sub par action.
With a film like G.I. Joe: Retaliation, the ultimate value of the film comes from the quality of its action. One of the ultimate flaws in G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra was its surplus of visual effects which drove the film to pretty much being animated in the sense that it was all extremely obviously visual effects. In G.I. Joe: Retaliation there are still a lot of visual effects, but they are moderated a lot better. There are many practical stunts and effects to depict an improvement over its predecessor, but the action is still poor. The highest quality action scenes are the ones which rely most heavily on visual effects, and even then those scenes seem too much like they came from a video game to grasp the effect of an intended high profile action film. This injects a strong sense of artificiality into the film which may please children but deters adults. The other problem with the action is that the practically staged scenes are just boring. Despite some occasionally mildly appealing choreography, G.I. Joe: Retaliation's action scenes are captured very poorly. The close combat fighting sequences are where this is most notable as the cinematography is too close to capture the action and the editing is excessively quickly. But during most of the action scenes, the opposite is the problem. Many of the action scenes show single shots for too long, therefore depicting characters maintaining their assault without a balanced perspective on how it affects their enemy. Most of the time this is an excess abundance of CGI anyway which is dull enough, but the cinematography can't capture it any better because it just makes the entire experience too obviously blank without ever having the appropriate amount of focused editing moderation, opting instead to focus more on making the experience 3D without any succesful appeal. So without much in the way of genuine action production value, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is ultimately doomed to failure. And there are so many action scenes in the film which all have such little appeal that the manic energy of the experience is bound to wear viewers down.
But I will admit that there was a mild sense of appeal that came from the cast.
Dwayne Johnson is the standout cast member in G.I. Joe: Retaliation. Being one of modern day's most appealing action gimmicks, Dwayne Johnson manages to create a character who is actually worth something in G.I. Joe: Retaliation for the most simplistic purposes. For one thing, he has a very laid back persona during the scenes which do not demand him to pretend that there is any severe drama and is therefore able to create an appealing sense of easygoing chemistry with Channing Tatum in his brief time on screen. But more importantly, he carries this sense of charisma over to the action in the film so that when he is out being trigger-happy and crushing skulls with his bulging muscles you can tell he's having fun in the part. Dwayne Johnson carries extremely well over into G.I. Joe: Retaliation and makes a more charismatic protagonist for the story than it is set up to have.
Bruce Willis is also solid. Though his screen time is very small, the legacy Bruce Willis has for a long line of action films makes him a perfect fit for G.I. Joe: Retaliation. When he enters, he brings along the presence of a true leader because that is his natural persona, even in the face of Dwayne Johnson. Bruce Willis delivers his lines with intense spirit and deadpan comedy while grasping his weapon fearlessly. Bruce Willis' charms are subtle, but they all come naturally to him and stand out among a crowd of characters with few gimmicks to boast about for themselves.
Even RZA is a welcome presence, particularly because of the genuine fact that in real life he's a hip hop music producer and so seeing him play a Morgan Freeman type character like Blind Master is worth at least a laugh.
Unfortunately, too much screen time is given to Ray Park and Adrianne Palicki who have little to offer in the way of genuine charisma and pale in comparison to Dwayne Johnson. Ray Park may have the fight skills and Adrianne Palicki may have the sex appeall, but neither of them have the necesarry characters or charisma.
So G.I. Joe: Retaliation benefits from the presence of Dwayne Johnson and Bruce Willis, but with a predictable story and an excess of overblown yet artificial action scenes it represents only a very slight improvement over its predecessor at best.