Oh dear dear dear, what did I do to deserve this? I’m a good person, I follow the rules, I buy my mother flowers when it’s not her birthday, I make my bed in the morning … and yet after quite enjoying the original GI Joe movie (yeah, I was surprised too), I stumbled out of Retaliation with brain matter dribbling out of my ears and a sense of despair that the universe had allowed the last two hours to happen.
I’ll happily see a brainless action movie, quite often the entertainment value comes from grappling with ridiculous things that happen in the plot. But it’s a fine line between hilarious and awful, and GI Joe heroically jumps over that line.
After the first plot twist came – it took me a good hour to conclusively say that it happened, they were vague enough to make me think it was a fake-out – I realised I had been trapped. It turns out Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson hadn’t been in the first film, nor had the majority of the cast. I was watching one of those shitty sequels that the original cast with any future prospects had distanced themselves from. Jonathan Pryce should be ashamed of himself! Ugh.
I just had so many questions. “Where did they get all their gear from?” featured heavily, with an early scene in a dilapidated rec center being eclipsed by an outrageous scene at the house of Bruce Willis (playing John McClane). The characters were wafer-thin, either lumpy soldiers, ‘most honolable walliors’ in the most cliched depiction of generic Asian fighters I’ve seen in ages, or pneumatic females with daddy issues (half-heartedly resolved in the closing scenes).
The baddies were suitably evil, happily being evil all over the place – including subtly redecorating the White House to show how evil everything was. Most action movie cliches were trotted out one after the other, capped by the supremely evil Cobra Commander (niftly re-cast now Joseph Gordon Levitt would rather shit glass than be in this film). His escape had a hilariously strong whiff of “Sashay away” in true RuPaul style. Amazing.
The plot was all over the place, lurching from one set-piece to the next. Am I watching any war film of the last 5 years, or the most generic samurai movie ever? Why choose when you can do both? Throw in a truly astonishing nuclear standoff, and a very poorly-designed satellite weapon system (press the single button once to start it, press the same button again to instantly destroy the entire system, how could that go wrong? So simple even The Rock could use it!).
At least we were spared any backstory with the imposter president as this was set up in the first film in all its nano-bot glory. Though the unravelling of this deception was so simple, just a lunch-hour spent looking at footage of his thumbs on Youtube was all it took. Not sure where she got the flat-screen PCs but she hardly needed them for that!
Oh there’s just so much, I can’t list it all. If you want to watch this, please don’t go in with any preconceptions that it’ll be ANY good at all, no matter what you thought of the first one. Actually, just go and see the first one. Or none of them, even better!
The only thing I liked about this film was that Lee Byung-hun and DJ Cotrona were WELL HOT.