“G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” like most action movies, is the type of film where if one expects any more than a full-out gun show, they will certainly be disappointed. Despite the intense action sequences, the unimpressive acting inhibits the audience from buying into the story.
The story that strings together this film’s numerous action scenes surrounds an elite United States military combat unit known as the G.I. Joes. Specifically, the film follows three of the group’s prominent members, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), who are left to fend for themselves after the rest of their troop is killed in an ambush. In an effort to avenge their fallen friends, the crew sets out to find who tried to wipe out the Joes. Along the way they find the Joes’ original commander, General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis), who comes out of retirement to help them battle their greatest enemy, Cobra Commander, who is played by Luke Bracey and voiced by Robert Baker.
The acting does not provide much depth. Johnson gives a typical performance as the big brutish leader of the remaining Joes. The former WWE star’s acting is highly reminiscent of the macho man typecast he is usually associated with, though that is by no means a bad thing. Also of note is Willis, who adds several instances of unexpected humor to the otherwise serious film, such as when the aged character reveals an impressive collection of weaponry hidden throughout his home.
The predictability of the plot and the lack of authentic emotion are areas where this film falters. The movie attempts to provide unexpected twists but aligns with the stereotypical movie structure, where, against the odds, the good guys triumph in the end. The emotional attempts that are made, such as with the pain felt by Johnson at the loss of the fallen Joes, comes off as forced.
The script, written by Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese, successfully links together the many high-octane action sequences, but its stale dialogue and scattered humor prevent it from doing much past that. That being said, the script of this sequel is still miles ahead of the previous installment in the series, 2009’s “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”
In terms of the directing, Jon M. Chu was able to choreograph highly memorable and extreme action sequences that are filled to the brim with intensity. This exuberant energy is a large part of what helps take this film above the level of typical action movies. Whether the team is fighting ninjas on a mountainside or modern-day soldiers, the action stands out. One of the most original aspects of Chu’s direction is his ability to execute these long fighting episodes within his film without them ever coming off as boring.
If “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is going to be compared to any intense dramatic film, it will fall short with its low performance quality and lack of emotional depth. Ultimately, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is an action film with a plot thrown in rather than a story filled with action.
Impressive action sequences fail to compensate bland acting in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”