I look at G.I. Joe: Retaliation with help from the awesome Frazer Foskett.
C: I didn’t want to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation. I haven’t seen the first film and neither of them exactly got stellar reviews, but Frazer wore me down after weeks of bringing it up at every mention of movies and so we finally went on a rainy afternoon on the Isle of Wight.
F: Charlotte secretly did want to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation. The necessary and frequently demanded sequel /reboot to the G.I. Joe film franchise has been eagerly awaited by critics and film goers alike. Whilst on holiday to France (C: Frazer doesn’t believe that the IOW is part of England) our wait was over, and we set out to watch this latest instalment in a work oft compared in scope and scale to epics such as The Iliad and the works of Shakespeare.
C: Ignoring Frazer’s blatant (F: under-) exaggerations, I was placated by the promise of lots of Channing Tatum; I had been assured that the delayed release date was in order to add more of him after the success of Magic Mike, as well as the post-production conversion to 3D. However, this can only have amounted to one admittedly endearing scene, as Tatum’s ‘Duke’ was killed after about 20 minutes! I was understandably disgruntled.
F: In a bold move by the director, previously credited with such works as Justin Bieber: Never Say Never, he decided to remove any links to the previous film within the first twenty minutes. This left the audience wrong footed, scared and unsure. I waited with bated breath to see what other M. Night Shyamalan twists could be delivered in the movie’s run time of 1 hour 50.
C: Luckily we were in the capable hands and broad shoulders of Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. A constant scene-stealer, he distracted from the just slightly ridiculous plot. There were many moments at which Frazer couldn’t help himself from whispering both exclamations and explanations of things relating to the first film, as well as gesticulating a bit too wildly for the cinema. I didn’t blame him though, especially with the scene in which a group of world leaders have a very poorly thought through nuclear fight.
F: Another enjoyable new character was that of Bruce Willis’ General Joe Colton, the original ‘G.I. Joe’. Charlotte talks of a ridiculous plot; however, in comparison to the first film’s story of nano-terrorism and sub-Antarctic bases, this instalment in the series seems more like an episode of The Wire. This stylistic shift, along with Channing Tatum’s removal, makes up the bulk of the aforementioned reboot. This, however, didn’t completely remove some of the sillier and more implausible aspects. To talk of specific military inaccuracies would take an article in itself, with the common disregard for uniform code and operating procedures. In particular, the world’s leaders’ actions regarding mutually assured destruction by way of nuclear weapons was fantastically laughable.
C: I feared that the entire film would be a mishmash of action and a scrambling for some semblance of plot, but actually the amount of action seemed mostly quite balanced, with the exception of an over-long fight in the Japanese mountains. I didn’t become bored, only vaguely disinterested in parts, and there was actually some real emotional depth in the loss of most of the G.I. Joes (although admittedly this didn’t hit me until later as, at the time, I was reeling from the realisation that there was no more Channing). The Cobra Commander’s walk was hilarious- it is entirely plausible that the man in the suit was hired for that strut (F: that strut wouldn’t have looked out of place on the runways of Milan)- and Storm Shadow’s motivation was unclear without seeing the first film, but Zartan was an impressive villain.
F: This isn’t the sort of film you go into looking for a plot expecting to win Best Screenplay, and I certainly wasn’t surprised by the depth of the plot. Having said that, it provided a stable backdrop to each action piece. These were enjoyable, with a variety of combat genres displayed, from the martial arts of Snake-Eyes, the vehicular mayhem wrought by Roadblock and the gunplay of all nicely showcased over the film’s running time.
C: All in all, not an awful cinema experience, but one that is best shared with someone that you can make fun with and who may gesticulate in an amusing manner when things are plainly wrong. I went with Frazer out of sympathy for his injured arm, but it could have been a worse spent afternoon.
F: In the end, I got no more and no less than I expected from G.I. Joe 2. This film is by no means high art, but neither does it pretend to be. A very enjoyable action blockbuster.