G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)

gi joe retaliation poster 2013 movie
6.5 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 6/10
Visuals: 7/10

Better than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, more action based

Cartoony feeling portions feel strange

Movie Info

Movie Name:  G.I. Joe:  Retaliation

Studio:  Skydance Productions/Hasbro

Genre(s):  Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  March 28, 2013

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

gi joe retaliation duke killed roadblock channing tatum dwayne johnson

Remember that part in G.I. Joe: The Movie where you fell into a coma and didn’t die, Duke? Not happening here…

Cobra has secretly infiltrated the White House with Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) replacing the President (Jonathan Pryce).  When Duke (Channing Tatum) leads the Joes on a mission to Pakistan to stop a nuclear threat, the Joes are accused of treason and executed by an attack led by Cobra agent Firefly (Ray Stevenson).  Unknown to Cobra, Roadblock (Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and Flint (D.J. Cotrona) have survived and are seeking to avenge their fallen Joes.  While Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and a new recruit named Jinx (Elodie Yung) track Storm Shadow (Lee Byung-hun), Roadblock seeks out one of the original Joes in General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis).  Now Cobra Commander is free, and Cobra’s ultimate plot for world domination is about to be revealed.

Directed by Jon M. Chu, G. I. Joe: Retaliation is an action adventure film.  The movie is a follow-up to G.I. Joe:  The Rise of Cobra from 2009 and had its released pushed back over a year.  Despite big box office numbers, the film received mixed reviews.

gi joe retaliation cobra commander costume

It is really embarrassing when I get fingerprints on my facemask

G.I. Joe: Retaliation had a big uphill battle.  After G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, many G.I. Joe fans felt soured by the less than positive movie, and this movie had to win them back, plus bring in new viewers that might see G.I. Joe as a kids’ franchise.  Channing Tatum’s rise in popularity make the filmmakers realize that they needed him in more of the film.  With additional scenes shot, and a conversion to 3D, G.I. Joe: Retaliation officially was ready in 2013…but it did not fix the formula.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation does make some improvements.  G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra had too many plot elements going on.  Here, there is a core team with different issues.  All the characters (except the underdeveloped Flint) have stuff they are dealing with, but that doesn’t supersede the action as it did in the first film.  Gone are most of the weaker characters of the original movie (there’s no mention of the Baroness, Ripcord, and Scarlett…weirdly), but the movie did not completely reboot the story by continuing Cobra’s replacement of the President and ultimate plans of domination (which is totally a Cobra type plot).

gi joe retaliation snake eyes jinx

This is almost the “Silent Issue” of the G.I. Joe comic book series

In changing the format to a more action-based movie, the original idea of G.I. Joe with cartoony characters and bigger than life weapons is lost a little, and when it does appear, it feels a bit weird.  The cartoon nature of the film is virtually gone and it is almost a straight action film.  It is much less tech based than the previous film and the weapons are a bit more “real”.  Ninja characters like Snake Eyes, Jinx, and Storm Shadow feel a bit out of place in this real world (in addition to Cobra Commander, Firefly, and Zartan).  The stylized costumes of these characters take away from the “real action” vibe of the film.  If these characters had just been normal soldier agents, this film’s story might have actually worked better.

As mentioned, the characters all have issues and for the most part this crew does a better acting job than the first film.  The Rock is just a more entertaining person to watch than Channing and bringing in Bruce Willis was smart, though his character doesn’t do much.  Lady Jaye is a little more dimensional than Scarlett, and the Snake Eyes-Jinx-Storm Shadow storyline is the “fun” storyline (and most like the cartoon)…but the totally overacted scenes with RZA as the Blind Master are horrible.  Cobra always lacked any good villains so I guess Firefly has to do, but the Dreadnoks or the twins Tomax and Xamot could have been interesting.  With a diverse crew, I found Flint (D.J. Cotrona) had no character or personality.

gi joe retaliation cobra white house

Cobra in the House!

*****Spoiler Alert***** The whole plot of Cobra to “take over the world” is interesting (I do like how they got rid of the rival nuclear weapons), but it is also pretty ridiculous.  I’m sure that no one noticed the giant satellites being constructed in orbit, and all I could think of is The Simpsons when they said a giant rod from space would cause the destruction (I wish someone shouted and pointed “It’s an inanimate carbon rod!!!”).  I think it is also rather amusing that the G.I. Joes are hailed as heroes, but there is no mention that London was wiped off the map killing hundreds of thousands of people…and that even Cobra doesn’t really like North Korea.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is escapism and an early summer feeling movie.  The movie isn’t good, but better than the previous outing. It still doesn’t seem like the filmmakers really know what to do with the Joes and if to make them like real soldiers or like cartoon heroes.  I wish there had been maybe some of the even goofier Joes in the slaughter like Rock ’N Roll, Wild Bill, or Mutt, and I enjoy that both G.I. Joe and Cobra put a lot into their branding by having lots of flags and logos made for their operations.  Despite a decent box office, G.I. Joe:  Retaliation did not spur more sequels in the franchise.  A soft reboot prequel film Snake Eyes was released in 2021.

Related Links:

G.I. Joe:  The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Snake Eyes (2021)

G.I Joe:  The Movie (1987)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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