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Laramie Movie Scope:
G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Epic action film doubles down on action

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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April 3, 2013 -- There is a joke in this film related to a retired general (played by Bruce Willis) with a house full of guns and grenades and a tank in his garage. Willis, who plays General Joe Colton, “the original G.I. Joe” tells Roadblock (played by Dwayne Johnson of “Snitch”) that the tank-like contraption “idles a little rough,” to which Roadblock replies that he won't be running the engine at idle speed. That is the whole theory of this film, all-out action all the time.

The first G.I. Joe movie (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra) was not as successful as the studio (Paramount Pictures) hoped it would be, so they put in more action and more star power this time around, adding Willis and Johnson to the mix, replacing Channing Tatum (who appears briefly in this film) and Dennis Quaid. The gamble appears to have paid off, at least so far. This film is making about twice as much as the 2009 film at the box office. If it continues this way, it will end up with about $600 million worldwide.

In this film, the G.I. Joe team is framed, betrayed, ambushed and almost wiped out during a mission to capture nuclear warheads in Pakistan. Only three members of the team survive the ambush, Roadblock, Flint (D.J. Cotrona of “Dear John”) and Lady Jayne (Adrianne Palicki of “Red Dawn”). A fourth member, Snake Eyes (Ray Park, reprising his silent role from “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) is off in the Himalayas someplace capturing his nemesis, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee also reprising his role from “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”). Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes are among a whole host of characters in the movie who wear masks. Like Snake Eyes, many of these masked men don't speak. That saves money, since people with non-speaking roles are usually paid less than those with speaking roles.

Snake Eyes and his apprentice Jinx (Elodie Yung of “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”) travel to the Himalayas to capture Storm Shadow, who was injured during an escape from prison (which, in itself, is a huge action sequence). There, we see one of the more interesting, and ridiculous, action scenes in the film, as a whole bunch of people dressed like ninjas fight each other on sheer mountain cliffs while hanging from ropes. While Snake Eyes and Jinx keep cutting the ropes of the bad guys, sending them falling to their deaths, the bad guys never get the hang of that tactic, allowing Snake Eyes and Jinx to escape with Storm Shadow.

Eventually, Snake Eyes, Storm Shadow and Jinx link up with Joe Colton, Roadblock, Flint and Lady Jane (who have been doing their own thing) with the goal of saving the world from the mad schemes of an evil organization called Cobra. It seems that a Cobra agent, Zartan (Arnold Vosloo, reprising his role from “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) has taken over the presidency of the United States by capturing the president (played by Jonathan Pryce of “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest”) and impersonating him. The fake president lures the other world leaders together at Fort Sumter, of all places, and attempts an insane plan to take over the world. This nutty plan involves a massive nuclear bluff game, and a mysterious orbital weapon system nobody seems to have noticed before.

This whole scheme is silly in the extreme. It is simply an elaborate excuse for a lot more action scenes, in which the president is rescued and the world saved by the small remaining band of G.I. Joes. Naturally, it all goes down to the last (cut the red wire!) second. One of the masked bad guys manages to escape, saving a top Cobra villain for another G.I. Joe sequel. The plot is basically just a thin outline which provides opportunities for lots of shootouts, explosions, chases, kung-fu fighting and massive destruction (including the destruction of a major world city). But that is what you buy your ticket to see, after all. This film rates a C+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2013 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)