Our G.I. Joe: Retaliation review has to start with the fact that the movie is leagues better than the first. Sure, G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra has its fans, but it is generally regarded as not the greatest start to a franchise. Let the bells ring as the second film in the series, directed with astute action sense by Jon M. Chu, is how fans would expect a G.I. Joe movie to feel.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation kicks off in a timely manner to say the least. The elite fighting force is in the Korean DMZ and waiting for their cue to enter a North Korean compound to swipe away a defector.
Within that ten minute opening sequence, the new dynamic of this crew is firmly established. Channing Tatum’s Duke is clearly the leader, Dwayne Johnson is Roadblock, the dynamic soldier who supports Tatum’s every move, while Adrianne Palicki is Jaye, a lethal shot and D.J. Cotrona is Flint, one who embodies the military term “grunt.”
The success of that first mission is barely celebrated when they are called into duty once again. The president of Pakistan has been assassinated and the Joes need to drop into the country to secure the nukes. It is there that our story takes a drastically dark turn and sets up the true meat of the story.
It’s no secret what happens next, as it was shown off in the G.I. Joe: Retaliation trailer -- all of the Joes except Roadblock, Jaye and Flint are wiped out in an ambush that was set into motion by the highest powers in the U.S. government.
Could Jonathan Pryce’s president have ordered it? Johnson and his whittled-down crew will find out with the help of the original “Joe,” Joe Colton (Bruce Willis).
Many of the most popular characters in the G.I. Joe canon get a fuller representation in the sequel than in the first film. Noticeably different is Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and Snake Eyes (Ray Park from Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace).
All these improvements from the first film, we believe, can be credited to the man behind the camera, director Chu. His being a lifelong fan of the character and his world is evidenced on every frame. There is a love and caring of these characters that is ever-present.
Also, the fact that Chu has a background in filming dance on screen (Step Up 2: The Streets, Step Up 3D and even Justin Bieber: Never Say Never) is felt with each elaborately choreographed action sequence. In particular, and it is so wickedly teased in this extended G.I. Joe: Retaliation movie trailer, the cliff-side battle. It is certainly one of the most original we’ve seen all year.
Will there be more Joes? Well, if G.I. Joe: Retaliation is any indication, the series is finally off to a decent start. Speaking of beginnings, one thing the film is as well is an early summer movie present from Paramount. It certainly feels as if the summer movie season has officially begun.