Skip to Main Content
G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
Movie Reviews

G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

The most mindless, pointless, and unmemorable action/special effects extravaganza of its kind since the first one; the only difference between the two is that this new film is in 3D.

Spiffy Rating Image
Review + Affiliate Policy

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the most mindless, pointless, and unmemorable action/special effects extravaganza of its kind since … well, since G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. The only thing that distinguishes this new film from its predecessor is that fact that, like just about every other movie these days, it has been released in 3D. You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the third dimension applied to scenes shot with a queasy cam and edited by someone in love with a pair of scissors; a great deal of the action is reduced to lightning-quick cuts and indecipherable blurs of frenetic motion, so when it leaps out of the screen and assaults your field of vision, it’s often times physically painful. It makes me want to gouge my eyes out knowing that a post-production 3D conversion is part of the official reason the film’s release was pushed back from its original June 29, 2012 slot.

In spite of what any official synopsis might tell you, don’t delude yourself into believing this movie has a plot. The whole thing is nothing but a clothesline on which to hang sequence after sequence of relentless action. You see it all in this film – gunfire, martial arts, explosions, swordplay, punching, kicking, and perilous cliff-side swinging on dangling cables. We even see London being obliterated by a non-nuclear missile. I really do mean obliterated; the shockwave that spreads from the site of impact turns every structure in a ten-mile radius into a pile of rubble. Mind you, the ramifications of this attack are not addressed or even hinted at. The only thing the filmmakers cared about was the spectacle of glorious destruction, which ends just as quick as it begins. That should adequately satisfy those audiences with short attention spans.

I cannot even begin to tell you what this movie is about. I understand that the G.I. Joes have been framed for something they didn’t do, that they were set up by those loyal to Cobra Command, and that the main antagonist (Arnold Vosloo) has disguised himself as the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce) and is plotting to help the Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) take over the world with what appears to be the threat of nuclear annihilation. But all this is just a convenient way to set up each of the bountiful action scenes. In all seriousness, what is this movie about? The more I dig for an answer, the more I come up with nothing but shovelfuls of dirt. I’ll bet if you asked someone that loved this movie what they thought it was about, they would be just as hard pressed to say anything.

Only a handful of cast members from the previous film return. Apart from Vosloo and Pryce, we have Dwayne Johnson (reduced to an “and” credit, despite playing the main character), Ray Park (whose character not only doesn’t speak but also keeps his face and body hidden by a black jumpsuit), Byung-hun Lee (a grating Asian-warrior caricature with vengeance on his mind), and Channing Tatum (to a degree much smaller than one might expect). New to the film, apart from Bracey, we have the super sexy Adrianne Palicki (playing the only G.I. Joe that has to shake her hair every time she takes off her helmet), the darkly handsome D.J. Cotrona (whose character is so useless that his inclusion comes off as an afterthought), the hilariously miscast RZA (playing, of all things, the blind leader of an Asian clan), and the overhyped Bruce Willis (whose inclusion cannot amount to more than ten minutes of screen time).

You really have to hear some of the dialogue, the blame for which can only go to credited screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick. Early scenes between Johnson and Tatum made it seem as if they were the stars of a half-cocked buddy comedy; their characters taunt, joke, and kid around, all in a way so glaringly out of place that it’s downright embarrassing. Willis’ character, a retired army general, has only two apparent purposes: (1) To make wisecracks about his age, or, more accurately, his cholesterol; (2) to flaunt his ability to stash an entire arsenal of weapons within the nooks and crannies of an ordinary suburban house. And at a certain point, you have to ask yourself: Did the Cobra Commander, with his threatening Freddy Kruger-esque voice, seriously just say, “Hoo-ha”?

There was a time when Hasbro was a respectable toy company. Now the brand has been tarnished by the production of films that sting our eyes, hurt our ears, and deaden the imagination. If the first G.I. Joe and Battleship have already escaped your memory, look no further than Michael Bay’s Transformers trilogy, three of the worst movies I’ve ever seen. The fundamental flaw with both G.I. Joe: Retaliation and its predecessor is that, by inundating them with action sequences, the filmmakers are conditioning audiences to be numb to them. The intention is to be entertaining, and yet, because each sequence lacks any sense of direction or purpose, they all register as nothing apart from a random series of images so insubstantial that they evaporate before our very eyes. Come tomorrow, I might not even remember that I saw this movie.

[vc_row][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_tabs][vc_tab title=”Release Date” tab_id=””][vc_column_text]


[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][/vc_tabs][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_tabs][vc_tab title=”Rating” tab_id=””][vc_column_text]


[/vc_column_text][/vc_tab][/vc_tabs][/vc_column][vc_column width=”1/3″][vc_tabs][vc_tab title=”Studio” tab_id=””][vc_column_text]

Paramount Pictures


About the Author: Chris Pandolfi