GI Joe: Retaliation (3D)
The Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson-starring sequel is a pleasantly surprising improvement on the first
If GI Joe: The Rise of Cobra represented the brain-dead summer blockbuster at its absolute worst, then the marked improvement of belated follow-up GI Joe: Retaliation is a pleasant surprise. Jon M Chu’s sequel abandons the effects-heavy, charisma-free approach of Stephen Sommers’ original to employ more realistic set pieces that stick closer to the widely fabled GI Joe mythology.
The plot picks up as the elite Joes unit heads into an unstable Pakistan to successfully retrieve some nuclear warheads, only to find themselves double-crossed and virtually wiped out by members of the shadowy Cobra organisation. Surviving trio Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (DJ Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) head back to America and team up with an original Joe (Bruce Willis) to exact revenge, eventually reuniting with former comrade-in-arms Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and an unlikely new ally.
Chu’s film may still be absurd but it has a knowing sense of its own limitations and a firmer grasp of its target audience. Hence, there’s plenty of explosive action, a nice line in humour and some fun performances, not least from new arrivals Willis (better here than in the woeful A Good Day To Die Hard), Ray Stevenson (as muscular villain Firefly) and Johnson (living up to his new nick-name of ‘franchise Viagra’ following a similar effect in Fast Five). Jonathan Pryce also impresses as the possibly villainous US President, while martial arts experts Park and Lee Byung-hun are given more room to indulge their physicality.
While GI Joe: Retaliation may still boast an overly indulgent running time and some ridiculous displays of gun fetishism and gung-ho patriotism, it’s a fun ride while it lasts.
General release from Wed 27 Mar.