SCORE: 1 stars (out of 4)
Think back to when you were 8 and used to play G.I. Joes with your friends. Remember the kid down the street who would always mess things up and ruin the fun? The one who would make Snake Eyes ride your sister’s My Little Pony and turn Roadblock into Skeletor’s henchman? The one who ripped off Duke’s head and lost it in the Lego bin?
Maybe you never thought that kid would amount to much, but it looks like he’s grown up and gotten to become a guy who helps make G.I. Joe movies. And worse than dealing with the fact that he’s made more of his life than you have is that, judging from his cinematic work, he’s somehow gotten even stupider than he was when he picked his nose and wiped it under his desk in third grade.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a miracle movie in that it’s hard to believe that it exists, given the relentless awfulness the 2009 flick, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. When articles started popping up about the movie being made, you had to check twice to see if they were written by The Onion. But the unwanted follow-up had at least one thing going for it — there was no way it could possibly be worse than the original.
Right. Just like there was no chance that your dad would choose the one day out of the year to mow the lawn that you left your Sgt. Slaughter figure laying in the grass. It’s as true today as it was then — miracles exist. It’s just that they often work against you.
The plot is a ludicrous mash-up of half-thought-out ideas of nuclear holocaust, Presidential impersonations, conspiratorial frame-ups and wall-running ninja antics. I won’t summarize the story, not so much out of fear of spoilers, but because I’m not sure it makes any sense. Think Univision’s Sabado Gigante. If a singing jetpack materialized and started doing the Harlem Shake – either the real one or the one everyone does on YouTube – it wouldn’t be out of place.
At least Paramount is aware of what a stink bomb it has on its hands. The movie was set to come out in June of last year, but the studio delayed it for nine months for no good reason – always a sign of quality and confidence.
You feel for Channing Tatum, who lost the game of musical chairs played with Rachel Nichols and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, co-stars of the last movie who wisely bailed out of the franchise. He feels out of place, like Jamie Lee Curtis in the late Halloween movies. He’s not in the movie much, but you get the sense that he’s always about to leave, taking the Brady Bunch excuse that “something suddenly came up.”
Bruce Willis seems like he’s enjoying himself, maybe because he’s happy that he’s found a project that will make his last few Die Hards look better by comparison. And it’s hard to fathom the mindset of the star, Dwayne Johnson, who seems so grim and serious either because the role means so much to him or because his laxative isn’t working. His high point comes before the movie, when the trailer for Fast and Furious 6 plays. At least in that movie the inanimate objects that share the screen with him in will have some personality.
Starring Dwayne Johnson, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis and Adrianne Palicki. Written by Rhett Reece and Paul Wernick. Directed by Jon M. Chu.110 minutes. Rated PG-13.