Susan Granger's review of 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation'
Since the Hasbro name appears twice in the opening credits, the intent of this noisy action adventure is obvious: toy soldier merchandising.
Positioned as a sequel to "Rise of the Cobra" (2009), it's got a new director, Jon. M. Chu ("Step Up"), and a couple of stars like Bruce Willis and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson. Brawny Channing Tatum returns briefly as Duke but
The super-commando survivors are Roadblock (Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), Jinx (Elodie Yung) and Flint (D.J. Cotrona), operating under the command of the original Joe: Gen. Joe Colton (Willis). The new villains include Ray Stevenson as Firefly, Luke Bracey as the silver-masked Cobra Commander, along with the feuding ninjas: silent Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and white-clad Storm Shadow (Klee-Byung Hun), who's working both sides of the equation.
Scripted by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick ("Zombieland"), the fast-paced plot begins in North Korea and then proceeds to Islamabad after the assassination of Pakistan's president. The mission is to secure
Pakistan's nuclear weapons for the U.S. president (Jonathan Pryce), who is actually the nefariously evil Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) in disguise; the impostor is keeping the real president alive in an underground bunker. As the elite fighting force battles the terrorists, it's obvious that the original 2D film was converted into 3D, particularly as the Ninjas choreographically rappel, zip-line and bungee-jump across an icy mountain range.
One can only imagine the panic that struck Hasbro executives, particularly after the Newtown tragedy, when it seemed that the American public was questioning the
effects of the constant barrage of TV, game and movie violence on children. Yet it's accepted that simplistic violence still sells, particularly overseas.
And the filmmakers are scrupulous about not showing excessive bloodshed amid the cinematic slaughter -- hence the PG-13.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" is a blasting, fight-filled but forgettable 4, totally lacking the essential element of cartoonish fun.