Director: Jon M. Chu
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Stars: Dwayne Johnson, D.J. Cotrona, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis
Is your inner adolescent yowling for an outing this weekend? G.I. Joe: Retaliation—a two-hour 3-D commercial for toys and merchandise—is here to help. Unburdened by plot, logic, team spirit or characters, the all-action flick is so idiotic, so unsure of whether it wants to be a dumb-ass thriller or a politically savvy one, it makes that all-out stinker, 2009’s G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, look watchable.
For the record, the movie kicks off with a brief intro documenting Channing Tatum as Duke getting all chummy and playing video games with “Roadblock,” played, with good-natured magnetism to spare, by Dwayne Johnson. Soon, though, the body count begins with the duo snuffing North Korean baddies and invading Pakistan for its nuke arsenal. The U.S. Prez (played by Jonathan Pryce) apparently orders a brutal sneak attack on all the extant Joes. Down goes Old Glory, up goes a flag sporting a red snake. See, it turns out that the prez is not really the prez but that many-faced master of disaster and terrorist hell-bent on world domination, Zartan of Cobra. Is that why he utters incredibly stupid and irresponsible things like “They call it a waterboard. But they never get bored”? If only to stop jokes like this, the team, including The Rock, Bruce Willis (on cruise control, not that we blame him), Adrianne Palicki, D. J. Cotrona, Ray Park and Elodie Yung, must reassemble to put things right, a task that involves throat-cutting, flying bodies, explosions, ugly racism, an adoration for weapons and a stunning disregard for any country that isn’t the ole U.S. of A. Death, maiming, the destruction of London—hell, they’re just setups for stupid one-liners (“Drive it like you stole it”), jingoism and toy sales.
There is one long action sequence set atop a Himalayan mountain monastery involving ninjas and ropes that is a kick; sheer, breathtaking adrenaline. More stuff like that, please. Most of the other action set pieces are so riddled with quick cuts that they’re completely baffling. Who’s killing whom? How many combatants are there? Wait, what are they fighting about, again? In the end, this thing is so incoherent, it’s not worth bothering figuring any of it out. This is knucklehead, Transformers-level stuff. Your move.