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G.I. Joe Retaliation 3D – film review

March 28, 2013


Big on action. Big on fun. Not so dumb.

Reviewed on Wednesday 27th March 2013

gi joe retaliation - dwayne johnson

Directed by Jon M. Chu. Written by Rhett Reese & Paul Wernick. Based on G.I. Joe by Hasbro. Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Channing Tatum, Ray Park and Bruce Willis. Running time: 110 mins.

I don’t ask for much from big dumb-ass Hollywood action movies. Gimme a formidable villian, a narrative which makes sense and likeable characters who are clearly enjoying themselves and I’m usually pretty accepting of such mindless fare.

G.I. Joe Retaliation, however, is a cut above the rest – in that (much like last year’s Iron Sky) – it has a wickedly subversive streak to it in the way it portrays US foreign policy in the eyes of the rest of the world, leaning more towards satire – than straight-forward grunt-fest – which is unusually refreshing in a big American action movie.

Based on the successful line of kids toys by Hasbro (the same company who brought us Transformers) and the TV cartoon series – G.I. Joe Retaliation is the long awaited follow-up to G.I. Joe The Rise Of Cobra – the first big-screen version which was released four years ago to moderate success. Despite being marketed as a reboot, G.I. Joe Retaliation is very much a direct continuation of events in the original film, which may leave those who haven’t seen the prior installment somewhat baffled as   to who’s who and exactly what the Hell is going on. Being one of those who missed the original, I found myself playing catch-up for much of the time – which was a tad frustrating. However, having said this, there is still much to enjoy here thanks in part to an amusing and well-crafted screenplay by the writing duo who brought us Zombieland. 

The story picks up where the original left off – as a maniacal supervillian, masquerading as the US president, attempts to blackmail the world’s nuclear   powers into accepting One World Government. It is up to the G.I. Joes, now       forced into hiding, to put a stop to his nefarious plan.

Best known as helmer of the first two Step Up street dancing sequels, director Jon   M. Chu seems initially to be an odd choice to helm a big summer action picture such as this. His experience in staging and photographing tightly-choreographed dance numbers however, has clearly held him in good stead when dealing with the logistics of staging big action set pieces which are refreshingly easy to follow – the show-stopping mountain-climbing ninja fight scene is a particular standout. And in another brilliantly staged sequence, Adrianne Palicki infiltrates a gala event hosted by Jonathan Pryce (posing as the president) in order to procure a sample of his DNA to determine whether or not he is indeed an imposter. While this is happening – the venue’s security staff simultaneously run a series of identity checks on her. The cross-cutting between these parallel actions – ramping up the tension, is a masterclass in great writing and is expertly handled by director Chu. Unlike many actioners of recent times, these scenes make sense while maintaining kinetic energy and momentum. As an action director, Chu is a major talent and will undoubtedly continue to work in the genre in years to come.

Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson in the lead is a likeable action hero who doesn’t take himself too seriously and there is some nicely amusing banter between the various characters – particularly in the early scenes between Johnson and Tatum. And Bruce Willis is clearly having fun in a small but pivotal role with perhaps the best line in the movie (it features in the trailer). Jonathan Pryce also makes an imposing villian.

Although the 3D conversion here is better than most, it still lacks the fully immersive experience one can only get from movies actually shot in 3D. So viewing it flat will in no way detract from the enjoyment of the experience.

A clever and amusing screenplay, coupled with assured direction by Jon M. Chu   and the natural likeability of Dwayne Johnson, makes for a fun time at the movies and ensures this – the second big dumb-ass action movie of the year – is a definite guilt-free guilty pleasure.

3.5 stars out of 5

Star ratings: 1 – poor / 2 – below average / 3 – good / 4  – excellent / 5 – unmissable

Viewed in 3D at the Hoyts Norwood Cinemas Adelaide, March 27th 2013.

Greg Moss is a film school graduate with a background in directing music videos   and is currently seeking representation as a screenwriter. He likes creative people, feeding the cat and watching genre movies.

From → film reviews

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