When it comes to movies starring The Rock, I don’t feel satisfied unless there are gallons of scenes of him clothes-lining  bad guys with his giant arms and popping veins in his gigantic neck. I also require some witty banter with a bro or maiden, accompanied by his winning smile. There are bonus points for that eyebrow thing he does.

In G.I. JOE Retaliation, Dwayne  Johnson’s character Roadblock has witty banter with Channing Tatum’s character Duke. Roadblock is only second in command in this band of brothers, which seems entirely wrong. Duke never feels in charge, probably due to the commanding onscreen presence of The Rocks’ neck muscles.  Those neck muscles take orders from NO ONE.

The bad guys that are due a good woopin’ are the terrorist minions of Cobra, who have captured the president and put in place a stooge with the presidents identical face. This evil president frames the Joes for terrorism and has them all exterminated.  Only Roadblock and a handful of others survive, and they begin their quest to retaliate.

I never saw the first G.I. Joe film, 2009’s Rise of Cobra, nor do I have any knowledge of the comics or the cartoon. I do remember their public service announcements where kids would get into trouble and a random soldier who apparently was standing around watching them gives them some advice. A little creepy.


But the general idea of the franchise is about soldiers with superhero names, Batman/Iron Man level equipment, and also a few ninjas thrown in for good measure.

There’s a good ninja and a bad ninja. I think. Snake Eyes fights for the Joes, wears all black and never says a word. Storm Shadow is on team Cobra, wears all white, and talks a little. I never understood what these guys had to do with the rest of the G.I.Joe squad. Is Snake Eyes a government soldier or just a vigilante? And doesn’t he know the bad guys that are taking over the world call themselves Cobra? Get a less offensive name, dude!

The ninja bits in the film were bogged down with back-stories that I assume were in the first film, so I was lost. Those scenes were not beginner friendly, seeing as I remained confused at what had gone down.

It’s around that time in the movie that Bruce Willis appears to save the day. Hey! I totally forgot you were in this, Bruce! He plays General Joe Colton, the original G.I. Joe.  He doesn’t have many scenes in the film, which is expected, but too bad. After all, it did seem like Willis was the added boost in the marketing campaign to get non Joe fans in the theater. It worked on me.

Speaking of the add campaign, if it felt like you’ve been hearing about the sequel for a long time, it’s because you have. Paramount had originally slated the picture to open on June 29th, 2012. They had already blanketed the world with posters and previews; even a high-priced super bowl ad. But suddenly, they announced they were delaying its release to March 28, 2013, giving them time to add in 3D effects. This reason has been debated; some saying it was due to negative screenings and script revisions. They also added more scenes of The Rock and Channing Tatum goofing around together, because people liked that witty banter.

Retaliation is a goofy, cartoony action film that may fall a little short of being real fun.  It feels made for the 11 year old boy audience (even though it’s rated pg-13), and if I was 11 years old I would probably love this movie. Actually, like I said, I wasn’t a fan when I was 11, so I probably wouldn’t. It’s directed by Jon M.Chu, who’s last film was Justin Beiber: Never Say Never; which is presumably a film made for 11 year old girls. I think Chu has found his demographic.

It clocks in at 110 minutes, which was about 30 minutes too long for me. I do enjoy seeing the The Rock do his thing, and Bruce Willis seemed to be enjoying himself here.  I would have preferred the movie to go even farther with its absurdity and tongue in cheekiness, similar to Machete or Hot Fuzz. Instead, Retaliation toes the line of coolness and wanting to be taking seriously, if ever so slightly. I suppose it’s more watchable than it’s counterpart, Transformers. Personally, this was their one shot to make me a Joe fan, and I don’t think I’ll be tuning in again. 

Still, Those PSAs are really informative.

“Um, Doc? What were you doing looking into our bathroom while our parents weren’t home?”


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