written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick
What could Bruce Willis be thinking? Last month, he put the nail in John McClane's coffin with "A Good Day to Die Hard" and now he's even giving the original Joe a bad name in "G.I. Joe: Retaliation." I'd have considered "A Good Day to Die Hard" tolerable if I'd known just how bad "G.I. Joe" would be. And boy is it bad. This film is like the dumb jock in a room full of dumb jocks. With one incomprehensible scene after another, this is an excruciating experience in every regard. If you want a better use of your money, go to your nearest gym and pay one of the customers $10 to flex his muscles for you before punching you in the stomach.
I never saw the first "G.I. Joe" but I can't imagine it has much to offer if this is all they could come up with for a sequel. It involves a group of supposedly elite soldiers who are dubbed "the Joes" and are apparently the gold standard in United States security. They sweat a lot, and shoot stuff and blow things up real good and essentially run around doing pretty much whatever they'd like as far as I can tell. Oh, one of them is Channing Tatum, code name 'Duke.' I guess he's the leader; and he sucks at video games. Then there is Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), whose name makes it sound like he should be fighting alongside another familiar set of Hasbro toys.
There are some bad guys as well. The one called Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) is using nano-technology to pose as Jonathan Pryce, who is the POTUS. Seriously, his character name is "President." He performs the task as well as any other movie President, always asking a group of sociopath advisers what they think the proper course of action is. In one really absurd sequence, the poser President attends an international meeting where several world leaders pull out their own nuclear launch devices as if it were the CES of WMDs. Anyway, the POTUS poser uses his power to wipe out all but just a few Joes, who then must find and recruit who I think is supposed to be the original Joe (Bruce Willis) to help them pummel the POTUS and preserve the peace. They're all still sweating, mind you.
Would it help for me to have seen the first film? I don't think so. This one does a bang-up job of telling the audience who is who and what's what and all that. But each scene is completely disconnected from the one before it. If the narrative were constructed of sentences it would look something like: "BANG! Dumb action. Stupid dialogue. Dumb action. BANG! Mediocre musical score. Sweat. Dumb action. BANG! You get the picture. There is a middle act ninja fight on the side of some snowy cliffs. So if that's your thing, you're welcome to it. But not a single event in this movie challenged my thought process or so much as gave me a heart palpitation.
Mercifully, the film does eventually end; but I kept wondering what could have possibly delayed the film's release for nine months. It certainly could not have been improved in any way. My guess is the studio figured "G.I. Joe; Retaliation" would get smashed by all the blockbusters that it would have competed with on its original release date last summer. Or maybe somebody said: "this is literally the worst movie ever made; let's make it worser." Yeah, I know 'worser' isn't a word, but "G.I. Joe: Retaliation" isn't a movie. It's a disaster. I think Bruce Willis owes everyone an apology.