“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”: It’s the finest weapons porn multimillions can buy.
The camera practically slobbers over all the high-tech hardware in the inevitable sequel to the 2009 action megahit “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”
The guiding mood is captured best in a scene where Bruce Willis, playing an old-school member of the G.I. Joe band of fighters, walks the new-wave Joes through his suburban home, opening closets, lifting sofa cushions and pulling out drawers to reveal hidden stashes of guns, guns and still more guns. There are even, as I recall, grenades in a fruit bowl. The Joes gawp in stupefied admiration. One lovingly fondles a massive megagun. It’s borderline obscene.
Overflowing with helicopter gunship assaults, armored vehicle assaults and a seeming infinitude of assault weapons, “Retaliation” seeks to equal, if not surpass, the high-caliber excesses of “The Rise of Cobra,” which is a merciless two-hour assault on the ears and eyes. Mission accomplished.
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As for plot and character development, well, um … did I mention the picture has a lot of guns?
Many of the stars of the first movie have been dropped in favor of bigger and better known names. Channing Tatum, who played the lead Joe in “Cobra,” is on hand for a while, but he’s soon shoved aside to allow Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, as a character called Roadblock, to take over.
Willis, another new addition to the “Joe” franchise, is so underused his role is practically a cameo. His scenes are few and he sleepwalks through the bulk of them.
After most of the Joes are blown to bits early on in an act of odious betrayal orchestrated by the bad-guy Cobra organization, Roadblock and two other survivors pick themselves up, dust themselves off and get cracking on the “Retaliation” part of the equation. They discover they’ve been done dirty by the president of the United States (Jonathan Pryce, grinning malevolently) who is not really the president but rather an evil doppelgänger who was brewed up in a Cobra lab in the first picture.
In “Retaliation,” the president and his Cobra coterie are bent on world domination, and they resort to nuclear blackmail to achieve it. The Joes have their work cut out for them to stop him.
John M. Chu’s direction is haphazard in the extreme. Big set pieces are either casually tossed off — blink, and you’ll miss the scene where London is destroyed — or chaotically staged in bad 3D.
In terms of special-effects-driven destructiveness, “Retaliation” rivals the “Transformer” movies, which is hardly surprising, given that both are derived from toys made by Hasbro. What we have here, then, is a feature-length commercial for war toys. Makes you want to change the channel.
Soren Andersen: firstname.lastname@example.org