Friday, 12 April 2013

Movie Review - G.I. Joe Retaliation (2013)

                                                       G.I. Joe: Retaliation (2013)
                                              Directed by John M. Chu
     G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra opened in August 2009 to a decent 54 million in its first weekend, so yes, it was inevitable that they were going to make a sequel. I watched the first G.I. Joe on Netflix Instant one hung over Saturday, and man was it bad. Marlon Wayans plays "the funny guy," and we all know how that's going to turn out (think of the two racist Transformers in Transformers 2, but slightly less humanistic.) I don't remember much about it at this point other than the fact that it was lazy action movie trope after lazy action movie trope, cluttered with stupid special effects that served no exciting immediacy. But I watch stupid action movies, and certainly can enjoy them, especially when my head hurts and I don’t feel like moving. Hungover people be watchin' Netflix, y’all.
     But between then and now 21 Jump Street happened and Channing Tatum became pretty much the only actor I care about (true story) and I heard he was making another G.I. Joe movie only this time with the Rock and I said "why yes, sir, why the hell not." So now (after it was originally supposed to be released last summer but was pushed back, more on that later) I've seen it and I can confidently say it was pretty much exactly as bad as I thought it was going to be. Maybe a little worse. Maybe a little better. Who can tell?
     I'm obviously not getting paid to write this review (although I do have to wrap it up because I need to go to my night job where I do get paid to clean some dude's apartment naked while I chain smoke cigarettes and he watches) so I should clarify from the beginning that if this movie didn't have Channing Tatum (who shall forever now only be referred to by his street name, C-Tates) I wouldn't have seen it. Director John M. Chu isn’t exactly a draw (he directed more than one of the Step-Up series, but not even the one starring C-Tates), and even with Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson headlining, that would not have been enough to get me to the theaters to see the sequel to a bad action movies based on friggin’ toys.
     The worst thing about the movie isn't that it doesn't bring any original ideas to the table. It's a franchise based on action figures, I'm not expecting "Inception" or something that actually appeared to have a screenplay. The problem with G.I. Joe: Retaliation is that it doesn't even do the over-used action movie plot points well. At all. The president has been kidnapped (and his kept in what appears to be the White House's tool-shed, but, maybe it was underground?) and is being impersonated by some bad dude using "nanotechnology" (I just laughed typing that word), to make his face appear as his. Only problem is, HE NEVER TAKES IT OFF. We are left with scene after scene of two presidents staring at each other. I'm not saying Jonathon Pryce is a terrible actor (I think he played the bad guy in the Pierce Brosnan 007 "Tomorrow Never Dies") but, well, he really shouldn't be playing two characters. He is the epitome of "American President in Action Movie" actor, and it's bland. And who plays the guy in the nanotechnology that disguises him? The bad guy from The Mummy movies, Imhotep! I would SO much rather watch that guy do evil stuff than a crackery old white guy.
     There's a bad guy in a mask. He is evil, you see, cuz you can't see his face. There is a bad guy who, for the life of me, I could not guess what kind of accent he was trying to accomplish. The action sequences were pretty unenthusiastic  They start with promise but never deliver. The movie's biggest set piece is a mountain-side sword battle between ninjas flying around on harnesses. It sounds pretty cool, but halfway through I'm just distracted by the fact that they have an unconscious person in a body-bag type thing and he is flopping around on the mountain with everyone. It looked funny, and then oh yeah, this sword fighting shit is still happening. What did they do with that body? Oh the scene's over, where's C-Tates? The movie has a downright criminal under usage of Channing Tatum. It's bullshit.
                                                  Honey's ain't be hatin on C-Tates, yo. No respekkin.
  But for the scenes he IS in, he mumbles along cute enough. He and the Rock banter, and for a movie like this, it's as good as you're going to get. I will state for the record that I think Dwayne Johnson is one of the most charismatic action stars we have in Hollywood today. I love that guy. He makes everyday things look so tiny when he's near them. And while G.I. Joe: Retaliation (I'm almost done with my second beer and that word is getting harder and harder to type) gives him virtually nothing to do in the way of dialogue, character development, or even just general action star-ness, it's still kind of nice to see him on the big screen punching people and kicking ass. He has some good moments in the film that breathe some faint life of excitement. There is a hot girl G.I. Joe, her special skill is being hot. There is another G.I. Joe…who…well he's a guy. And he's tough? The movie doesn't do much in the way of characterization.
     Which, it wouldn't need to if it had engaging action sequences that at least partially elevated some sort of story (there are nukes, that is the plot of this movie). And I don't need DEEP characters but I do need them to be likable, and the Rock can't do all the work, can he? Instead we get Bruce Willis, who you can practically see counting his money before the director even calls cut. After two Expendables movies (and a third to come) and the fact that there are now FIVE Die Hard movies (and a sixth to come) there is nothing I can say anymore about the whole "Old Action Star" comeback thing that hasn't already been said a thousand times. All I know is it's not nearly as cute as studio executives think it is.
                                                                              Never forget.     There is the appearance of a certain, very famous rapper who in known for his penchant of Kung-Fu and Asian cultures, who has a cameo in the movie as the Blind Master. I can't quite tell if the director did this tongue in cheek, or because he thought having a famous rapper would be cool. It makes a big difference, and I really want to like the fact that the RZA is in this movie for a hot minute, but I doubt anyone involved in the making of this movie has any idea what tongue in cheek means.
     It’s worth noting that the movie was supposed to be released last summer, but was pushed back for several possible reasons. Terrible test results were obviously it, but the studio released some statement stating it was to convert it into 3D so that “more people could enjoy it on a new and exciting” blah blah blah who cares. I like to think it was to add more C-Tates into the first twenty minutes so that he could possibly come back for a third. And the worst part is? If There’s a third, and C-Tates is in it, I will totally see it.
     Not enough C-Tates. Not enough good.
4 out of 10 stars