To be fair, not many critics loved “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.” Starring an on-the-verge Channing Tatum, the 2009 film grossed just enough at the box office to solicit a sequel, or “reboot,” as it’s been deemed. Critics at least gave the first installment credit for having a sense of humor. The reviews are in for “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” and, well, they are retaliating against this reboot.
There are some new Joes this go-round, a new director and new writers. They admit this version is “grittier” than the first, a move director Jon Chu said was more in line with what fans wanted to see. But for a film based on toys, where’s the fun?
Read on for our review roundup of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”:
“Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson takes over the franchise as Roadblock, a Joe hell-bent on clearing his elite team’s name after having been framed for killing the Pakistani president and stealing nuclear weapons. Behind the setup is Zartan, a Cobra operative impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). Like many movie megalomaniacs, this villain is after a super-secret weapon that can destroy any Earth city from space. How Bondian of you.” — Justin Craig, Fox News
“There’s a new director, Jon Chu — the man behind a couple ‘Step Up’ installments and the Justin Bieber documentary — and ‘Zombieland’ writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick signed on. But rather than wiping the slate clean, the filmmakers integrate, seemingly at random, elements from the last film. The derided, skin-tight black leather armor may have disappeared, but Tatum returns, as does a plot point involving a villain masquerading as the U.S. president. The writers resuscitated one deceased character, but left others incapacitated. They stay just faithful enough to the last film to make this preposterous CGI-centric 3D extravaganza feel like a confused patchwork of new and old. It’s as if the computer successfully restarted but half the icons disappeared.” — Stephanie Merry, The Washington Post
Who Run the World? Girls
“I will concede that adding a G.I. Jane to rough it up with the Joes was a nice touch. Adrianne Palicki’s Lady Jaye does a surprisingly good job of holding her own against all the testosterone. I’ll even buy that this tough chip-on-her-shoulder chick who is ruffled when the original Joe (Bruce Willis) asks her to hand him a pen, is totally fine slipping into a slinky little red number when a villain needs seducing. At least sneaking glances at Jaye changing gives Flint (D.J. Cotrona) some credible covert action to engage in. Otherwise the franchise’s new hunk is wasted.” — Betsy Sharkey, Los Angeles Times
The Final Word
“The action this time around is a mixed bag. Director Stephen Sommers’s cartoonish action scenes had a kind of devil-may-care bravado in the first film. The new film has less of that toys-being-knocked-around quality. This time, the action has more heft, more — dare I say it? — realism. But is that what a G.I. Joe movie needs? Gone is that sense of cartoonish fun, replaced by a curious, competent anonymity. We could easily just be watching outtakes from ‘The Expendables’ or ‘The A-Team’ or ‘The Losers.’ ” — Bilge Ebiri, Vulture
Check out everything we’ve got on “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”