G.I. JOE: RETALIATION (Rated PG-13)
At this early stage, the year 2013 is shaping up as a busy one for hardcore action films, often starring or featuring aging superheroes who still have drawing power at the box office.
Dwayne Johnson, not yet old but who’s been around for awhile, and Bruce Willis, who is charitably almost a member of the senior action circuit, have starring roles in “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.”
This latest film, based on the Hasbro toys, is a sequel to “G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra,” a film I did not see due to some valid excuse. I think I have a doctor’s note for missing the screening.
In any case, with this type of action film, it hardly matters if you miss one of them, what with the action being largely generic and cartoonish, easily explained by any twelve-year-old boy.
The film begins with some promise as Channing Tatum’s Duke and Dwayne Johnson’s Roadblock, elite squad members of the G.I. Joes, bond over some video games and family life.
Unfortunately, Tatum doesn’t stick around very long. He may have had a commitment to appear in another film that looked more promising for his future.
The action begins with an incursion into North Korea to extract a prisoner. Maybe that lunatic Kim Jong-un got an early look and decided this was as good a time as any to threaten nuclear war on the United States.
Out in the field, the G.I. Joes are betrayed by sinister forces, resulting in most of the group being eliminated in one horrific aerial attack of their base camp.
The sole survivors are Roadblock, the new recruit Flint (D.J. Cotrona), and the tough but sexy Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki). The assault appears to be the handiwork of Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey), but I am not entirely sure.
What is apparent is that the President (Jonathan Pryce) is a clone of the duly elected commander-in-chief. As part of the Cobra conspiracy, the faux U.S. leader ordered the termination of the G.I. Joes.
Meanwhile, up in the Himalayas, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) are engaged in great martial arts combat as they attempt to capture the traitorous Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee).
The fight sequences are even more dramatic and exciting when Snake Eyes and Jinx battle a slew of ninjas while flinging themselves on ropes tied to the sheer mountainside cliffs.
Given that the alien force of Cobra has taken over the White House, Roadblock and his decimated crew turn to the only person who can help them in their dire need.
Retired General Joe Colton (Bruce Willis), who coined the nickname for the G.I. Joes, is the only soldier to be trusted. He also knows something combating diabolical plots.
For someone no longer on active duty, General Colton’s private residence contains more weaponry and ammunition than an entire Army base. In every room, there are hidden closets and cabinets full of assault weapons.
Meanwhile, the fake President has convened a summit of nuclear powers, including North Korea, China, Russia, France, Britain, and India. His dastardly plan is a game of nuclear chicken aimed to force all others to disarm.
For reasons that are not really evident, the President appears bent on total nuclear annihilation of planet Earth. A total wipeout of civilization seems counterintuitive if you seek world domination. What is to be gained from a scorched earth?
Of course, not everything makes sense in an action film like “G.I. Joe: Retaliation.” It’s all about the choreography of great gun battles, martial arts stunts and hand-to-hand combat.
One thing “G.I. Joe” is not about is a sensible plot and snappy dialogue, though the faux President, smarmy and oozing with villainy, spouts some of the best nasty lines as if he were the bad guy in a James Bond film.
The most underused character is Cobra Commander. You’d think he would be a commanding figure of sheer malevolence and supreme villainy. Instead, he’s practically a cipher.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” is a film likely to be reviled by critics. Bu I think it offers its target audience pretty much what they want in an action film of this kind. On the plus side, the film moves at a great pace with plenty of thrilling stunts.
Tim Riley writes film and television reviews for Lake County News.