The sequel to 2009’s “G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra” was released March 29, and was the second best Easter weekend box office in history.
The movie picks up where the first left of, with Cobra agent Zartan disguised as the President of the United States, having had his face changed through the use of nanotechnology. He uses this position to order a strike on the G.I. Joes at a camp in Pakistan where they are awaiting transport. The attack decimates the ranks, leaving only Roadblock, Lady Jaye and Flint to find a way home and remove Zartan and Cobra from power. From here we also see Snake Eyes and Jinx track Storm Shadow, who has knowledge of the newly freed Cobra Commanders plans. He agrees to help the Joes, in order to exact revenge on Zartan, whose machinations were what made him the man he is now.
In this time of heightened nuclear talks, it seems a go-to topic. In opening, the Joes are on a mission to extract nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Later, at a summit to discuss universal nuclear disarmament, Zartan provokes the nations present to launch nuclear weapons and then destroy them, leaving them vulnerable to Cobra.
This movie replaces the science fiction approach of the first movie with a more realistic feel. Instead of nanotechnology destroying London, Cobra Commander uses kinetic bombardment, by releasing a tungsten rod that falls to Earth at a high velocity. This idea was written about in a 2003 Air Force report, called Project Thor, which is identical to the plan launched by Cobra in the film.
Only Ray Park (Snake Eyes), Byung-hun Lee (Storm Shadow), Jonathan Pryce (President) and Zartan (Arnold Vosloo, briefly) return from the original movie, with only a brief bit of time spent with Duke (Channing Tatum). Where the first film was campy, this movie tried to inject some seriousness, while still acknowledging its roots in childhood. In this movie we have Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock, Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and D.J. Cotrona as Flint.
There was also something about Bruce Willis being in this movie, but for the screen time he was given and the complete nothing he did in this movie, it was a waste of hype. Willis got maybe 10 minutes of screen time and in that time he showed off his gun collection, made a crack about his cholesterol and led a team of aged soldiers, a la “Battleship” to help the youngsters win the day.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is really no better than its predecessor. It takes a standard action flick and parades aspects from childhood around, hoping to draw in that crowd, instead of cementing itself in the mythos of the established “Joe” storylines from the comics and shows. Cobra finally gets his traditional helmet, the tanks and hovercrafts look like Joe companion toys, and the ninja scenes still beat the gun fights out of sheer fun.
Take the kids to it, but once you leave the theater, you won’t remember much except the fact that the President of the U.S. was playing Angry Birds as a split second nuclear war occurred. The movie is a gun-wielding fun family movie, and takes a more dedicated approach to the “G.I. Joe” mythology, but still hasn’t quite got it down.