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Movie Review: G. I. Joe: Retaliation

By Matthew Huntley

April 10, 2013

Okay, we're doing massive re-shoots. Does anyone have any screenwriting experience?

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Zartan serves the even more sinister Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey), the steel-faced nemesis of the Joes who possesses the standard “maniacal bad guy” aspirations to take over the world. His and Zartan’s eventual plan involves gathering the world’s leaders at a nuclear arms summit and deceiving them into launching, and then destroying, their nuclear weapons, leaving Cobra the only one remaining in the world. And should they not comply and swear allegiance to him, he’ll release it and destroy their countries one by one. It is, of course, up to the Joes to stop him and disarm the warheads via one of those briefcases with a countdown clock, but not without waiting until the last possible second.

To expect anything more or different from G.I. Joe: Retaliation as far as plot is concerned would just be silly on the moviegoer’s part. Besides, what anyone paying to see this movie really cares about is its action and sensational value, and on those levels, the movie fires on all cylinders from its opening scene and doesn’t let up. But luckily it’s not exhausting, and the screenplay even allows for the action to take a breather from time to time. When it is rip-roaring, director Jon M. Chu keeps things coherent and we always know what’s going on in front of us. That’s impressive considering a movie like this could have easily gotten out of control with its editing.

One of the best sequences takes place when Snake Eyes and another Joe protégé named Jinx (Elodie Yung) engage in a zip line battle with a swarm of ninjas on a cold and rocky mountain range in the Himalayas. What are they doing up there, you ask? Their mission was infiltrate a temple and capture Storm Shadow (Byun-hung Lee), who’s alive and well and undergoing skin reconstruction after freeing Cobra Commander from a subterranean prison. Snake Eyes’ confrontation with Storm Shadow actually leads to a greater understanding of their turbulent past, suggesting Storm Shadow might be an asset in the future.




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As you might expect, all this leads to one great big action climax, with lots of chases, shootouts, hand-to-hand combat, and explosions of all kinds, some of which come courtesy of Bruce Willis as General Joe Colton, who was forced into early retirement. Ultimately, there are no surprises with “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” but it’s fun without being altogether craft-less. It’s like eating a piece of fruit you’ve had hundreds of times: it gives you energy and pleasure, as well as some nutritional value, even though you know exactly how it’s going to taste. In terms of an action movie, that’s better than it being pure junk food.


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