If people who rappel down mountain slopes are daredevils, what do you call those who do this while running across sheer cliff faces in winter, and clashing swords with a team of ninjas hot in pursuit?

Certainly not ordinary Joes. That’s probably why they’re called the GI Joes.

But that name isn’t worth much in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, thesequel to G.I Joe: The Rise of Cobra (2009). Not when the country they’ve spent their lives defending turns it back on them, after accusing the Joes of treason while they’re on a mission in Pakistan. In fact, only 3 Joes survive the air raid sent by the US President. Escaping death by plunging into a well, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and Flint (D.J. Cotrona) are now faced with their dead friends.

One of the dearly departed is, Duke, played by Channing Tatum. As a mater of fact, Tatum’s character is gone within the first 15 minutes, something that smells of false advertising, going by how prominent the babyfaced actor is on the movie poster. The same can be said when you find that Bruce Willis isn’t the main character either in this sequel based on the Hasbro toy franchise that spun out from both a comic and a cartoon series.

Picking up where the first movie left off, BAFTA and Golden Globe award nominee, Jonathan Pryce reprises his role as the President of the United States, but this time, he’s really Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) in disguise. Held hostage by the Cobras, Zartan uses the President both to get rid of the G.I Joes and to con the other world leaders into disarming the nuclear weapons.

While the Joes climb out of the well in a demonstration of sheer will and strength, and skivvy their way back to the States to begin to avenge their fallen comrades, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) globetrots across Asia with Jinx (Elodie Yung) to kidnap Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-Hun). With drama and a lot of acrobatics, they spend a good few minutes flying across the sides of the Himalayan Mountain fending off their Ninja foes. One of the better parts of the movie, the scene brought some fast paced action sequences that didn’t rely on the cliche 3-D bullets or flying debris.

Battered and betrayed by their country, the Joes assume that there’s no one they can trust, but as Roadblock stands calmly in the middle of the chaos back in America, he recalls the only exception, “There is one man. He’s the reason we call ourselves ‘Joes’.”

Enter Emmy and Golden Globe winner Bruce Willis, who makes a snappy 10-minute cameo as General Joe Colton. Coming in with his trademark one-liners, “I’ll take two cases of thin mints and a box of chocolates.” Willis brings some comic relief in the form of his fully stocked house. With firearms in the kitchen (it’s actually an armory with kitchen appliances) and a tank in the garage, the Joes of the old and new set out locked and loaded to save human kind.

Gathered by the imposter, Zartan, leaders of the world discuss nuclear disarmament, which would give the Cobras the ultimate advantage. What happens during the meeting is a semi-hilarious showdown between big boys armed with panic buttons that could destroy the world.

Overall, G.I Joe: Retaliation is an action film that delivered on the action with it’s gun fights and sword sequences, without giving much thought to having a proper story much like its prequel.

With the hackneyed premise of a villain craving world domination on one hand and a misunderstood ninja on the other, the subplot didn’t have much of a point. While it would have been good as context in the first movie, Storm Shadow’s redemption here, while somewhat related, failed to add value to the overall plot of the movie.

Directed by Jon M. Chu, known for his Step Up movies, Retaliation is a good film if you’re looking for some cathartic explosions and serious body counts. You can also count on some good moves by Snake Eyes who’s played by Ray Park, the lightsaber wielding Darth Maul from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace.
Rating: 2.5/5

Release Date: Mar 28

Runtime: 1 hr 50 min

Language: English

Censorship rating: PG 13

Genre: Action

Director: Jon M. Chu

Main actors: Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona, Adrianne Palicki