During a period when inconsequential but properly executed escapism remains a cinematic cornerstone, loudly obnoxious blockbusters frequently dominate their opening weekend box office and ensure later (if unnecessary) installments. The second of Hasbro’s live action “Toys Gone Wild” initiative – a title I wish they’d coin – 2009’s G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra was, for all intents and purposes, a goddamn abortion. Never since Bay’s Transformers sequels have I witnessed a much-worshipped sect of my childhood get so brutally beaten to death, and with bionic, performance-enhancing suits and laser beams no less. As if we weren’t dealing with enough big-budget punishment as of late, G.I. Joe: Retaliation returns in true rote fashion as just plain dull segues into unwatchable at consecutive, superficially effects-laden intervals.
Retaliation, in light of its innumerable weak suits, isn’t without its one merit. While the action is collectively presented rather predictably, there’s always going to be a requisite amount of fun that coincides with ninjas dishing out capital punishment. Take away the above average fight choreography and what do you get? A string of narrative filler/drivel that serves only to break up the monotony of fifty some odd firefights laden with your standard pyrotechnic overkill.
As you may have already learned, yes, the second of soon to be three G.I. Joe films cashes in on the presently popular US Government takeover subplot – of which will be employed once again for June’s White House Down. This aside, and if the generic threat of all-out nuclear war and world domination was employed deftly enough, I for one would not have a sole fucking gripe with it. Unfortunately, Rheese and Wernick’s script is so inept and bereft of even the slightest semblance of intellgence and expected tension that I couldn’t wait for it to just be over. Throw in some increasingly worthless characterization of Johnson and Tatum’s respective roles and you have yourself a crock pot full of stewing rotten chum passing itself off as substance.
I know what these films and those of their type are trying to achieve, I really do, but in imitating the bombastic escapism of similar, more recent actioners, there’s truly a fine line between forgivably mindless and insulting. In once again expanding upon the initial tread through Hasbro’s toy-centric action legacy, G.I. Joe: Retaliation showcases the exact opposite of what defines big-budget genre thrills. It’s uninspired from both a narrative and technical standpoint, unenthralling as such and wholeheartedly lacking even the most miniscule of souls. If this all reads as harsh as I think it does, maybe my extensive warning against seeing this paltry schlock won’t go unheeded.