AFTER failing to find a decent stream of Horrid Henry: The Movie, I turned in desperation to my Netflix. Truth be told, I didn’t really try and I find a better stream, I just had to find something more interesting. Lo and behold, I found myself in the Action section of the movie provider. Having enjoyed the first instalment of the G.I. Joe saga, Rise of the Cobra, I knew I was sure to be thoroughly disappointed with its sequel: Retaliation.
Sure enough, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a sweaty, gun-heavy macho man wet dream that’s one or two explosions shy of a Michael Bay film. It’s like someone made a live action version of Team America: World Police, but with the satire turned off. There are aspects of this movie so jaw droppingly ridiculous that the only thing I could do was just watch in stunned silence. By no means was this film as painful to sit through as LOL or Jack and Jill, but my God it was dull. I’m not the greatest fan of big budget action films, but this has got to be one of the worst. Its not even the case that the film is dumb, but enjoyable; it’s just plain stupid.
The film spends most of the opening taking out threats in both North Korea and Pakistan; policing the world, like they do throughout. The characters’ attitudes don’t really help either. While loads of incredibly muscular men and one very attractive woman load up on heavy weaponry and shout “HELL YEAH” and “HOO-RAH”, you know some shut-in somewhere is jerking off. This is near as damn it Action Porn. As our American chums storm a Pakistani compound, I swear I could hear the baddies saying “durka-durka”. Someone, please, tell me I was wrong?
The stupidity continues as the film goes on. Cobra’s operatives in the White House wear little Cobra badges on their jackets. Please, are you telling me no one thought that was odd? It’s about as subtle as whispering “Hail Hydra” in someone’s ear. There are plenty of aspects of this film which are stupid, but then again they’re all part of that tragic genre of Bad Action Movies. The casual sexism of the movie is interesting to note; out of the two women who are actually part of this film, the one with the most screen time (Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye) is quite often used as a sexual bait, with the directors squeezing her into whatever sexy outfits seem vaguely appropriate for the movie.
Let’s talk about the action then. Of course it’s a necessity to have fighting in the movie, otherwise that would totally defeat the point of a movie about America’s greatest soldiers. But this film has developed a numb spot when it comes to violence. Not an eyelid is batted as the characters shoot their way through every person they meet, regardless of age, race or gender that stands in their way, carving Dwayne Johnson-shaped holes in them. Even when there is a bit of genuine emotion, there’s really only enough to lightly cover a water biscuit.
Perhaps the most shocking piece of desensitisation occurs at the film’s climax when Cobra Commander levels London, wiping out the entire population. An audible gasp is heard, and then that’s it. Not another word is said about one of the busiest cities in the world being wiped off the map. While only a blatant excuse to exhibit some special effects and slap another $100,000 onto the budget, it still shows how little of a shit the film really gives. Oh, and let’s not forget that poorly placed ‘water boarding’ joke.
Finally, my last bone to pick with this film is primarily the fault of Paramount. Rise of the Cobra left off in a good spot, perfect for a sequel. Of course, Paramount then decided they wanted to REBOOT THE FRANCISE. Frankly, that is the most ridiculous decision they could have made, the result of which is a film being torn in different directions. Out of all the characters that were featured in Rise of the Cobra, a grand total of five reappear in the sequel, and Channing Tatum is killed off 20 minutes in. The audience is left in limbo: What the hell happened to the story? Where are all the other characters? You’re telling me that ALL the Joes were killed off by that one airstrike? What about General Hawk and Brendan Fraser’s awesome character?
All these questions and more are left unanswered as the audience wades through a gloopy, barely structured storyline. “Sorry, Destro, you’re out of the band,” remarks Cobra Commander (annoyingly not played by Joseph Gordon Levitt). What that should really read as is: “Sorry, Destro, but we don’t want Christopher Eccleston to return for this movie.” What we are left with in terms of narrative is the very basic of stories, and something incredibly confusing involving Snake Eyes and The RZA. Why they didn’t make this a common sequel I have no idea.
So, there you have it. G.I. Joe: Retaliation perhaps isn’t your conventional choice for a film torment but, to me, it’s one explosion, some racial stereotypes and a Megan Fox short of Transformers. Desensitised, boring and at times over sexualised, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an example how a sequel/reboot should not be done.