Main cast: DJ Cotrona (Flint), Adrianne Palicki (Lady Jaye), Jonathan Pryce (President of the United States), Lee Byung-hun (Storm Shadow), Ray Park (Snake Eyes), Ray Stevenson (Firefly), Élodie Yung (Jinx), Luke Bracey (Cobra Commander), Channing Tatum (Duke), Bruce Willis (General Joseph Colton), and Dwayne Johnson (Roadblock)
Director: Jon M Chu
It’s becoming Dwayne Johnson’s career of sorts to step in and completely usurp an ongoing series with his uber-capable super amazing character, isn’t it? This isn’t a spoiler – much – as it happens within the first half hour of the movie, but Duke dies. All the better for Mr Johnson’s character, Roadblock, to step in and become the boss of everyone, of course.
Set a few months after the previous movie, most of the cast from that movie have evaporated into thin air, it seems. Duke now leads a small team, and Roadblock has unceremoniously shown up to usurp Ripcord’s place as Duke’s BFF. Duke may be the leader, but Roadblock spends the first half hour bossing everyone around, upstaging Duke and making the poor fellow seem like a bewildered sidekick, until Duke mercifully meets a hilariously abrupt death shortly into the movie.
Duke dies along with most of the team because of a plot by the shapeshifter Zartan, who by now has taken the form of the President of the United States and used his position to eliminate the Joes. He then frames the Joes before their bodies cooled, accusing them of trying to start a nuclear war or something. Meanwhile, the other Cobra members aren’t sitting around idle. Storm Shadow and Firefly engineer the release of Cobra Commander from a supposedly high-security prison, and then it’s time for Cobra Commander to do his thing. Is the world doomed?
Of course not. Three Joes survive: Roadblock (of course), Lady Jaye, and Flint. Together, they must find a way to avenge their dead buddies, clear the reputation of the Joes, and, of course, take down Cobra Commander. Since Roadblock is played by The Rock, naturally this character knows everybody, has all the connections (even to the founder of the Joes, General Joseph Colton – yet another minor role played by Bruce Willis), and can do everything. If you stop to wonder how a former chef turned Joe can have so much know-how and connections, you are watching this movie wrongly. Don’t think – that’s the only way to go.
If you think, then this movie is an even worse plotted movie than the previous installment. Seriously, the Cobra Commander has his agent installed as the President of the United States… and all he can think of is to start another nuclear war? That worked well the last time around, didn’t it? With all the resources and armies at his fingertips, this joker can only think of a plan to bomb everything. How lame. That’s just the biggest logic fail in this movie, and there are many more minor failures that will probably cause anyone’s brain to explode if that person stops to think whether anything in this movie makes sense.
Still, I have to admit, this movie is insanely entertaining. The action sequences are ridiculously thrilling, especially the ninja skirmish along the steep mountain slopes of some magical land of ninjas where doctors chant while using lasers to heal people. Mr Johnson does his usual action hero thing here, and I have to admit, it works like a charm this time around, his one-note action hero shtick. Adrianne Palicki effortlessly plays the Hot Lady with a Gun archetype, while equal opportunity fan service is provided by Lee Byung-hun is one of the most dramatic strip-off scenes in an action movie ever. The majority of the other cast members are also very easy on the eyes, so this movie is practically gunpower pornography with extra bullets and explosions. It’s all very hot.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is easily one of the most fun guilty pleasures I’ve come across in a while.