action movie freak    
G.I.Joe: Retaliation movie poster-blue version with The Rock biggest, then Channing Tatum, then Bruce Willis, but Bruce is a little larger than Channing

G.I. JOE: Retaliation


(28 Mar 2013) 

Director: Jon M. Chu1

Writers:  Rhett Reese and Paul Wernik
               (they wrote Zombieland)

Lately, it seems people (not Action Movie Freaks, of course) complain SO MUCH about Action Movies. They go in with a bias that Action Movies are dumb movies for dumb people. They write like they are deigning to watch one and speak about the "clichés" in Action Movies like it's so dreadful that we're doing 'that', again. Of course, we are—They just don't get it. Clichés, as they dismissively label them, are why Action Movies work or don't work. I like to call them Action Movie Essentials. Why an Action Movie doesn't work can be directly attributed to a lack of Action Movie Essentials. There is no shortage here.  If you love military Action Movies, loved The A-Team movie, and Transformers: Dark of the Moon, you should be thrilled with this movie.

To explain all I like about it, I want to start with the first movie G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.  Rise of Cobra was not well liked. I don't know why not, though. It was great fun. The special effects were so plentiful, and the pace so frantic, I really thought they could have made 3 movies out of all that material. I actually worried the world was speeding up, and that this would be the future of all Action Movies. Thankfully, they turned the pace down a little and get it just right in this movie.

My only real problem with the first movie was that Channing Tatum didn't carry it for me as a G.I. Joe2.  He wasn't big and beefy enough. [To be sure his physique is perfect, but he's not an Action Figure3. (I even had him in my Bad Ass list under the Regular Joes, but I'm fixing that right now and moving him up to Half and Half.)]  Marlon Wayans was buff, too, but he's too skinny. These are Super SolidiersAction Movie Freaks want to see MASSIVE MEN! Like Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson or "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, not the buff, boy-next-door type. And so . . . when you heard The Rock was going to be in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, you expected it to be good because he can carry anything, literally, like when [SPOILER ALERT] they're trying to get out of the well and they almost fall. Who holds the other two Joes up with sheer strength . . . You smell it!  They get that right too!!

There was already a story to make a movie out of here with the Cobra Command. [The Bond Movies are proof that we love a villain with plans for world domination or destruction.] Enter the Cobra Commander with a weapon that drops a rod from space, working more destructively than a bomb. Gotta be more expensive though, huh, to build and orbit these satellites?  How did we not stop that?  We don't find out about these satellite weapons until the end.  That's a shame because showing what one rod could do at the beginning and then putting a timer on it would have really kept us on the edge of our seats. It should have been about a race to stop that from the start, not just in the last few minutes. Until the end, we think it's all about stolen nuclear weapons. (That was done well back in 1995 with GoldenEye and many times since, maybe even before . . . so there was no novelty although the raid scene was cool with rapelling.)

In all the running around in this movie, there were a few too many characters. After the movie The Rundown's intro of the football players in the club, I feel like almost every Action Movie should introduce their characters that way, so I loved that they did that here. Yes, tell us how big they are, what their nickname is, and what they specialize in.  So, lets introduce them:

The Joes . . .

Dwayne Johnson

Channing Tatum

D. J. Cotrona

Adrianne Palicki

are joined by these guys . . .

The original "Joe"
Bruce Willis

Byung-hun Lee

Elodie Yung

Ray Park

 to fight the Cobra Command


Brian Steele
(voice is Robert Baker)

ZARTAN as The President
Arnold Vosloo/Jonathan Pryce

Ray Stephenson

Matt Gerald

The 3D in this movie is SFC (seriously fucking cool) and it's nonstop. It seems like it's going to be a great Buddy Movie until [SPOILER ALERT] Channing Tatum is killed. If you love military-themed Action Movies, this is a
Super Soldier extravaganza!

I loved the look of the desert air base, it also has an underground prison. There's plenty of really cool weapons, you won't believe (well, unless you saw it already on the trailer—hate when they ruin the best moments) the motorcycle with guns and missiles that breaks apart and becomes bombs. The only phrase to adequately describe that comes from an unusual source, Rachel Zoe:  "Bananas!"

This movie also does plenty of Trash Talking, such as . . .  

"You're out of the band."
LOL You gotta love infighting among the bad guys.
"Making more things go boom by 9:00 a.m. than most people do all day."
"It's good to know we're not running low on crazy."

There is big 3D in nearly every frame. The movie is a string of amazing fight scenes. The fight scene between Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes would really be something in 2D, but in 3D, it's even cooler. When Snake Eyes shoots the Chinese stars, it's ridiculous (but in a good way). How do you shoot the stars coming right at you with an automatic weapon without shooting the man throwing them? But these things are best left unanswered.  There was a moment when Snake Eyes has a knife or trident that he throws up in the air and then catches it just to change his grip. That was the coolest moment in the movie for me (below @1:08). That's the kind of thing Action Movie Freaks live for. It's so Bad Ass that he's that skilled. They really mix up the fight scenes. There 's a gun vs. swordsman, girl vs. old woman, girl vs. girl, and then, enter the ninjas. All this and ninjas too?!  Really, the movie DELIVERED!


The scene everyone went to see is the cliffside zipline fight. The running sideways with the scale of the mountain, the camera angles, the height, and how it all looked in IMAX 3D really just takes your breath away. It's beyond crazy dangerous. You have to wonder, how did they come up with that?! 

There is all this amazing fighting with everyone else but The Rock, and then, to make up for it they give him a huge move:  I loved when The Rock comes up against Firefly and he just throws Firefly down the stairs . . .  SLAM! Handled. Watching Action Movies, me and my friends sometimes add up the entertainment value. As if great scenes have a dollar value and we wait until we get our ticket price worth. Here's an example I am sure you can relate to. In Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, when they got to the chase scene in the beginning of the movie, it was already worth double the ticket price for us!  After this scene where Roadblock handles Firefly, this movie was all gravy for me.

So, who can the G.I. Joes go to when double crossed by the government? To the original "Joe", General Joseph Colton.  Naturally, if the Joes are the ultimate soldiers, you would expect even an older version to be a total physical bad ass.  Bruce Willis is not who I would have cast in this role, but he is so well liked it really doesn't matter—but it kinda does . . .  Who I pictured is more of a chiseled jaw, buff, career hard ass like Colonel Miles Quaritch from Avatar.  In the movie, what "Joe" lacks in physicality, he makes up for in weaponry with his hidden cabinets with a stockpile of weapons (another Action Movie Essential). Bruce's scene (where he does a quick change of wardrobe) seemed a little beyond his ability, and I wondered if he got hurt in that scene. (I am sure it was a stunt double but it was hard to tell).  It was still a really cool deception even though I wondered if it was planned or spur-of-the-moment improvised. So much rested on that going off successfully, I wondered what if they weren't the same size in clothes? It left a lot to chance . . .

TOYS and more TOYS
There are many wow moments in this movie, toy wise, from the fireflies to the motorcycle that breaks apart and becomes more weapons, to an airboat, a Robocop-like 'toy' HISS tank with guns (yes plural), and the most impressive weapon: one only The Rock could handle. The one they should NOT have shown in the trailer, the 50 caliber. Showing big moments like this ruins their impact in the movie. Sure it makes the trailer great but it takes away from the movie and makes you feel let down (because you already saw it), instead of being super surprised, and giving you something big to tell your friends.  It should have been a total HOLY SHIT moment but you knew it was coming :(

According to this interview with the writers "Roadblock, we had to give that big 50 caliber machine gun, which is extraordinarily difficult to hold. They had to strip weight out of that gun so that Dwayne carry it. Even Dwayne, as strong as he is, couldn't hand hold that machine gun. So Dwayne now owns the distinction as the only character in history to ever to hip fire one of those big 50 caliber guns."

Although there are a lot of toys, there is a lot of hand-to-hand combat throughout. The bad guys really like to throw down in this movie. The villains are really entertaining. The 'President' makes all the other countries launch their nuclear weapons. What an incredible scene that is!  When the rod weapon hits, I have to say that not since the movie "Earthquake" has a theater shaken so much. This is what we pay for!

There were so many incredible visuals in this movie. The Cobra flags on White House really hit home. I wish that wasn't shown in the preview. There was a high-speed tank with dune buggy mount, armored helicopter with boxy shape, an airboat with an explosion to the face in 3D.  There was so much going on that when the final showdown between Roadblock and Firefly went  down I wondered what they could possibly do, and they pulled out a double-handed fist fight with both of them having guns in both hands. I wondered why hit, why not just shoot, but they were 'in the moment'.  Personally, beating someone to death has got to be more satisfying than pulling a trigger. Just the Action Movie Freak talking. I also enjoyed the bullet to the face, the wrestling takedown, and how  they take Firefly out using bugs!  PAYBACK. So satisfying. They know what we Action Movie Freaks want, they really do!!

The overall Action Movie Essential is having our heroes make us feel pumped up, and what better than the Joes all armed up, strutting, coming home in uniform with full dress to be recognized and given awards. This is a Super Soldier movie to be sure.  At the end, they give a nod to all women as General Joe pays Lady Jaye the most respect by saluting her.  After the "Brenda" joke, it's a nice touch and a payoff on her personal story about her father. Come on, women fighting side by side with men, what could be 'sexier' than that? Watch how you answer . . .


1  Jon M. Chu has directed . . .
2013 G.I. Joe: Retaliation
2011 Justin Bieber: Never Say Never (documentary)
2011 The LXD 2: Secrets of the Ra
2010 The LXD: The Legion of Extraordinary Dancers
2010 Step Up 3D
2008 Step Up 2: The Streets
2002 When the Kids Are Away (short)
2001 Silent Beats 

2  "G.I. Joe is a line of action figures produced by the toy company Hasbro. The initial product offering represented four of the branches of the U.S. armed forces with the Action Soldier (U.S. Army), Action Sailor (U.S. Navy), Action Pilot (USAF), Action Marine (USMC) and later on, the Action Nurse. The term G.I. stands, in popular usage, for Government Issued, and after the First World War became a generic term for U.S. soldiers. The origin of the term dates to World War I, when much of the equipment issued to U.S. soldiers was stamped "G.I.", meaning that it was made from galvanized iron."    - Wikipedia

3  "The development of G.I. Joe led to the coining of the term "action figure". G.I. Joe's appeal to children has made it an American icon among toys."     - Wikipedia

"The G.I. Joe trademark has been used by Hasbro to title two different toy lines. The original 12-inch line that began in 1964 centered on realistic action figures. In the United Kingdom, this line was licensed to Palitoy and known as Action Man. In 1982, the line was relaunched in a 3¾-inch scale complete with vehicles, playsets, and a complex background story involving an ongoing struggle between the G.I. Joe Team and the evil Cobra Command which seeks to take over the Free World through terrorism. As the American line evolved into the Real American Hero series, Action Man also changed, by using the same molds and being renamed as Action Force. Although the members of the G.I. Joe team are not superheroes, they all had expertise in areas such as martial arts, weapons and explosives."

"The conventional marketing wisdom of the early 1960s was that boys would not play with dolls, thus the word "doll" was never used by Hasbro or anyone involved in the development or marketing of G.I. Joe. "Action figure" was the only acceptable term, and has since become the generic description for any poseable doll intended for boys. "America's movable fighting man" is a registered trademark of Hasbro, and was prominently displayed on every boxed figure package."

"G.I. Joe was inducted into the National Toy Hall of Fame at The Strong in Rochester, New York, in 2003." 

- Wikipedia



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