Welcome to the gunshow. G.I. Joe Retaliation is where firepower, meets muscle and tanning oil. The sequel to 2009′s Rise of Cobra is a livelier adaptation of the Hasbro property. That’s not saying much considering the original film left much room for improvement. But director Jon M. Chu tries to right some of the wrongs plagued by its predecessor.

The Players:

  • Director: Jon M. Chu
  • Writers: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
  • Cast: Dwayne Johnson, Jonathan Pryce, Byung-hun Lee, Channing Tatum, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona, Bruce Willis, Ray Park, Ray Stevenson, Walton Goggins, Elodie Yung, RZA, Arnold Vosloo
  • Cinematography By: Stephen F. Windon
  • Original Music By: Henry Jackman

The Plot:

The President of the United States is being impersonated by Cobra operative Zartan (Vosloo). While in power, Zartan frames the G.I. Joes and orders a termination strike against them. The surviving team members Roadblock (Johnson), Lady Jaye (Palicki), Flint (Cotrona) and Snake Eyes (Park) join forces with their namesake General Joseph Colton (Willis). They have to prove their innocence and bring Cobra to justice before they cause a nuclear war.

The Good:

  • The Special Effects: They’re not perfect, but the special effects are much better than Rise of Cobra’s. The previous film had very cartoonish sequences. For the sequel, Chu tried to do as much practical work as he could and it shows. There’s a fight scene set in the mountains that epitomizes that. It’s a mix of CGI and live-action work that blends together flawlessly.
  • Action: The action is much more grounded. There are still ninja fights and compound raids but they’re less childish. It serves a purpose and has consequences. As expected, Ray Park’s Snake Eyes and Byung-hun Lee’s Storm Shadow are the ones to watch.
  • Tone: Overall, Retaliation attempts to take itself more seriously. There are still plenty of jokes, but they’re not hokey. This isn’t a beat-for-beat adaptation of the cartoon. The wardrobe is also drastically different from the first film. Before, they wore these high-powered suits, and here it’s just fatigues. They rely on their basic instincts and allow their skills to do the rest. They significantly cut down on the gimmicks.
  • Jonathan Pryce: Pryce is a veteran actor who’s been around for ages. He’s probably the only member of the cast with more credits than Bruce Willis. Here, he plays duel roles as the President and his impostor Zartan. He seamlessly switches from helpless leader, to evil villain without any trouble. When he has an opportunity to be bad, he enjoys every minute of it. He’s at the root of some of the film’s best scenes.

The Bad:

  • RZA: We were genuinely confused by the RZA’s performance. He plays Blind Master, a teacher where both Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow honed their ninja skills. The character seems like more of a parody than an homage to the Kung Fu genre. His scenes feel like leftover footage from The Man with the Iron Fists. It just doesn’t fit.

The Overall:

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is mindless entertainment. It’s light on characterization, but makes the most of what it has. It knows its audiences and tries to cater to them. So if you’re in that target demographic, you shouldn’t be disappointed.

The Rating: 8/10

G.I. Joe Retaliation hits theaters March 28.

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Will you be seeing G.I. Joe Retaliation this weekend?