An improvement on this first film, but shoots itself in the foot in the first fifteen minutes. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is what the studio called a soft reboot sequel of the 2009 film. I remember there being some kind of controversy or something with the trailers that were released and the movie itself, but since I didn’t really enjoy the first film way back when, I just never cared to watch the trailers or the movie and just ignored everything about it. This is the first time I have seen it and I went in as blind as could be knowing only that The Rock was in it and he is what they call a franchise saver. Without getting into any details yet, I did have to look up some articles about the one part that I think was the biggest mistake they made, so I will of course address that. Anyways, with all of that, let’s get into the actual review of this sequel/reboot/whatever you call it.
I’m just going to go head first into this and address the elephant of the room being the decision they made to kill Duke (Channing Tatum) in the first fifteen minutes of the movie. In further reading, I understood that they wanted to kill him to give the franchise a fresh start with The Rock as the lead. Fair enough, but anyone in their right mind who saw those first fifteen minutes and watched those two interact would have realized how dumb of a decision it really was.
There excuse was that they wanted a fresh start, their overlook was that Tatum would grow into a better actor and find success in the year before this movie was released and would turn into an actor that people enjoyed watching. They even tried to expand his role a slight bit with reshoots, but ultimately it ended up being the worst decision they could have made. The chemistry that Tatum and the Rock have in their scenes is so genuine and perfect that it’s almost a crime to have not just rewritten the script to have Duke in the whole film.
I don’t understand what their decision was to kill him off anyways. I know they wanted a fresh start, but if you’re going to have him in it then you might as well just leave him in it until maybe the end. There were very few actors that carried over into this sequel, but it’s a crime that Tatum wasn’t in this whole movie and playing of The Rock. I am so upset about that not happening and to make matters worse, Bruce Willis is also underutilized.
Okay, with the elephant in the room addressed, I will go into the rest of the film that is actually not bad at all. The movie is much more grounded than the first film was and feels more like a Mission Impossible movie. It still has its cartoony kind of characters like Cobra Commander and his silly helmet, but it’s a much more grounded film with action that actually feels exciting and bombastic rather than fake and mostly CGI. The action itself looks like what you see in a Fast and Furious movie, so I guess you could say this is a mix between Fast and Furious and Mission Impossible.
Choosing The Rock to lead this franchise and take over the reins from Tatum was also a smart move because he of course is always fun and exciting to watch. It would have only been better if Tatum was still involved to play off of each other, but unfortunately we got Flint instead. Flint I guess Is supposed to play the second lead along with Jaye, but neither one really stands out that much or comes even close to having the same great chemistry Tatum and The Rock had in the beginning. It’s just unfortunate that things turned out the way they did because you could see the potential this movie had early on, but it just never reached that level for the rest of the movie.
The story isn’t too bad and is actually much better than the first movie while also being not that great. It picks up right where the first one left off, but with new actors playing the villains so again it’s a sequel but a reboot which I understand to a point, but I just don’t understand why change everything when the story is still going to be a continuation. I also wonder if this is the first time we’ve ever seen all of the countries in the world launch all of their nukes at each other. I’m sure there’s probably another movie that has done that, but I can’t think of one.
The movie slows down a bit in the middle leading up to the last act with the one highlight being them finding the original “Joe” played by Bruce Willis. He’s on the poster, so I actually assumed that he was going to have a fairly large role, but it’s a bit of a trick since he’s really only in the movie for about ten minutes. Again, it’s unfortunate because he was actually really good and an interesting character that we just don’t get enough of.
This movie expands on what it set up in the first film and elevated it to a more realistic level making it more enjoyable to watch without thinking it to be too cartoony. Overall it is just a better movie that only fails because of bad choices, some that could have been prevented and others were just circumstances of an unpredictable situation. The Rock is a great character to have in this franchise, but would have only continued to make Tatum better if they had took a chance with him one more time. I actually would have liked to see where the next story would have gone despite the issues I had with it.
I can’t say that it’s a great movie or that you should watch it, but it is more enjoyable than the first film. It may be worth a shot just to see how much better this one is, but at the same time I don’t want to get your hopes up. Me asking someone to watch this movie is like asking someone to watch a good Marvel movie, but also tell them that you’re just not going to get a sequel even if you like it. Watch it if you’re interested I guess.