GI Joe Retaliation Review: Cobra Gets Their Comeuppance
GI Joe Retaliation wanted to separate itself so much from the first movie that it took the extreme step of eliminating all GI Joe operatives except for four. Only Snake Eyes remains from the cast of the first film on the GI Joe side.
Being a bigger fan of Cobra anyway (villains are cool!) I actually liked that they finally accomplished what they’d been attempting through the entire run of TV shows and comics: the elimination of GI Joe. Of course, being Cobra, their follow-through is incomplete and they miss the three characters that will form the core of the team we watch onscreen.
I didn’t actually cheer as much as I thought I might, because I actually really liked the interplay between Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson) and Duke (Channing Tatum) and I could’ve watched a whole movie with both of them in it. If they find some way to bring Duke back I won’t be terribly shocked.
The Cobra side is less affected but there are lineup changes. The biggest one missing is probably Destro, though I’m not going to spoil under what circumstances he gets left out. I’m thinking that they just couldn’t figure out how to do the whole metal face thing, but I could be wrong. I missed Baroness more anyway, as I thought her character in the first film was a lot of fun, but we can lay that at the feet of the first movie anyway.
They add Firefly, a character I sort of recognized from other GI Joe stuff but that I wasn’t entirely familiar with. He does a great job filling in for both Destro and Zartan as Cobra Commander’s main henchman. Zartan’s still around, but he’s busy playing President. I enjoyed watching Jonathon Pryce play both the real President and the impostor. Looks like he had a fun time letting his evil side out. Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) gets a bit of character development this time around in a plotline based on one from the Marvel comics series run.
There’s a real obvious love of the GI Joe world in this film, from the plotlines involving the Ninjas to the appearance of perhaps my favorite piece of Cobra weaponry ever, the H.I.S.S. Tank. And Cobra Commander looks absolutely badass in his familiar mirror helmet, so glad they didn’t try to keep that stupid facemask from the other movie.
There’s a plot to this movie, one motivated by revenge, which is a distinct departure from the good guy universe I’m used to. There’s not a lack of good guy motivations, like Save the World from Cobra, but the start of things is Roadblock’s need to take down the people that killed Duke.
Bruce Willis plays the original General Joe Colton, the original GI Joe, but he seems more of an add-on and a gimmick than anything else. They don’t even bother to name the remaining guys from his team, though I guess they wanted to keep those names in reserve for new characters. His scenes are good, but I feel they could’ve done a little more with it, and there was no use of a Kung-Fu grip in any of his scenes. Maybe that seems like a silly idea, but I kind of wanted to see it anyway. The scene in his house is probably my favorite, but I won’t say anything about it.
Things get sort of muddled in the end, the rationale for certain actions on the part of Cobra Commander just baffle me, but they’ve always been better at chasing cars than knowing what to do with them if they actually caught them, so I can’t say I was actually surprised.
If you’re a fan of the cartoons or the comics, you’ll probably enjoy the movie, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with for the sequel.