As I left the screening of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, my first thought was to get home and waterboard any G.I. Joe action figures I might have retained from my youth in retaliation for having seen this movie. My second thought was to avoid walking in front of the lunatics who clapped at the end of the movie because they clearly should not be left unobserved. I understand that this movie was aimed at a very specific audience – 12-13 year-old boys – but I have yet to hear or see those boys clap at anything, let alone a movie. Plus, I refuse to believe that even that select audience will accept garbage like this. So, who the hell was clapping and what the hell were they clapping at? As if that wasn’t enough, another portion of the crowd started whooping at the screen when Channing Tatum appeared. Seriously, this happened and we weren’t watching this movie at an all-female construction site or a strip club. And, that was the high point of this putrid excuse for a movie.
Have you ever watched a movie that was so incredibly brain damaging that you start trying to convince yourself it really wasn’t that bad? You might say things like “It was better than the first movie” or “Transformers 2 was worse” or “I’m 13 and that was awesome.” But, I promise you that’s the brain damage talking. My expectations for this movie were somewhere between the awfulness of the first movie (Rise of Cobra) and my kid having a diaper blowout in my arms. Shame on me for underestimating Hollywood’s ability to dig beneath current levels of sewage to discover rings of hell that even Dante couldn’t dream of.
The film begins with four G.I. Joes infiltrating a North Korean installation to rescue some guy hiding in a truck. This is arguably the worst scene in the film as they burn a hole through a fence in a well-lit area about fifty feet from a manned guard tower and run across open ground without being seen. Plus, this scene has absolutely nothing to do with the rest of the movie, including the guy the rescue. Normally, I would just chalk this up to typical action nonsense, but rumors are that the movies was delayed by a year because they shot new scenes to include more Channing Tatum. As absurd as it is to type those words as a non-joke, Tatum inexplicably is a box-office draw (as evidenced by the whooping from the audience). Of course, the studio is claiming it was to add 3-D, which probably is also true and adds the same amount of value as the new Tatum footage – namely nothing. Unfortunately, this doesn’t explain why the rest of the movie makes no sense whatsoever.
At some point in between movies, the President (Jonathan Pryce) is kidnapped and an imposter using a nano-mask (don’t ask) takes his place. He orders the Joes to go to Pakistan to secure its nuclear weapons before rebels can move them after a coup in the country. This leads to the next bizarre scene in which a couple dozen Joes storm a facility containing exactly four bad guys. Seriously, you see the Joes shooting, but you never see what they’re shooting at besides stairways and handrails. After securing the warheads, the Joes get surprise attacked and everyone dies except Roadblock (The Rock), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and Flint. Yes, that means Duke (Tatum) is dead too. However, I think this is BS since we never actually see his face on one of the dead bodies. We only see Roadblock pulling dog tags off of bodies.
Anyway, the fake President delivers a speech to the nation in which he claims the Joes have betrayed the country and he his replacing them with a new outfit called Cobra. Never mind the fact that the Joes are a top-secret special forces unit that the public doesn’t know about; how can anyone take the speech seriously when he says G.I. Joes and Cobra in the same breath? I know I was laughing.
(Side note: while the unintentional comedy in this movie was plentiful, it wasn’t nearly as funny as Dennis Quaid running around yelling “G.I. Joes” throughout the first movie.)
The film quickly devolves back to gun fighting, but with some ninjas thrown in just in case you forgot what you were watching. You’ll see things that would make Neo and Morpheus raise their eyebrows, including such things as a guy shooting throwing stars out of the air and ninjas sword fighting on the face of a giant cliff. At some point, the evil plot of the Cobra Commander is revealed to be him crashing a nuclear weapons summit at Fort Sumter and the fake president revealing their satellite constellation of kinetic energy weapons that will destroy all of the major cities outside of the United States. The Joes save the day by blowing up those satellites by pushing a button in the briefcase that controls them. Yes, the bad guys actually installed a self-destruct button on their doomsday device. And, yes, the Joes think they have saved everyone by destroying the same satellites which would cause them to fall out of the sky, destroying those cities anyway.
Based on that, it’s easier to believe that the screenplay was really just a six year-old playing with his toys and being recorded than actual writers being paid to write a script. It also explains the truly inane dialogue, though not the turn-your-head-in-shame acting. This movie was really just a 90-minute ninja, gun battle highlighting the fact that The Rock, a.k.a. Dwayne Johnson is arguably the worst actor on the planet. Even Walton Goggins, who is fantastic as Boyd Crowder in Justified, turns in a shameful performance. And don’t forget Bruce Willis, yeah, that Bruce Willis, is in this movie, though it would be easier to believe he’s just a CGI figment of our imagination. When the best thing you can say about a movie is “I hate 3-D,” you know Hollywood’s hit rock bottom. Of course, that could just be the brain damage talking.
Rating: Ask for your all of your money back unless you are a 12-13 year-old boy. Just kidding, even they know they’re getting ripped off by this movie.