I’m a big fan of “The Rock” and Channing Tatum and Bruce Willis. But I hated this movie. The darn thing brought in $132 million globally on its opening weekend, so obviously my opinion about the movie puts me in the minority. I tell you this so if you really still feel like reading this review, you’ll know where I’m coming from. And for the record, my movie companion, a guy, loved the darn thing. “Lots of explosions!” he beamed. Yep, that’s true, lots of explosions I was still bored to tears.
My first complaint. SPOILER here and throughout. Channing Tatum, my newest movie crush after his terrific turn in Magic Mike (see the review) was only in this movie for a few minutes before his character got killed off. A few minutes! Despite the fact that he is prominently displayed on the poster and in al the film’s publicity. So if you go to this movie expecting to see Mr. Tatum, be prepared to be disappointed.
Secondly, one of my favorite actors is Bruce Willis, who was near-brilliant in one of my favorite movies last year, Looper (see the review) and his usual self in the lackluster new Die Hard movie (see the review of A Good Day to Die Hard) is also prominently displayed on the poster, again giving the impression that he’s going to be around for a while in the movie. Wrong. He comes in near the end, forcing me to sit through the entire movie waiting for him. Was it worth the wait? Yes, but just barely. With his shaved head and his chiseled, macho man physique, Willis has emerged as Hollywood’s beloved elder heart throb. He won’t replace the Sean Connery, who is the all time old-guy heartthrob, but he comes a close second. Enjoy him while you can in this movie because he’s not there for very long.
On to the third reason I went to see this movie – Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. Yes, I love “The Rock” (see review of Snitch) and I’m not going to apologize. He can’t act but so what? He’s gorgeous and funny and rarely takes himself too seriously. You gotta love a guy like this. But the only movie of his lately that is worse than Snitch, was this thing, G.I. Joe: Retaliation. You get to see lots of shots of The Rock strutting around in cool warrior duds, and shooting bad guys so you can see his magnificent biceps, but other than that, the movie makes you want to run right home and turn on the wrestling channel to see clips of his recent return to the wing.
Okay, there is a story here, sort of. The G.I. Joes – an elite military unit inspired by Hasbro toy figures—gets decimated by a surprise attack in the desert, where poor Channing Tatum, after doing several scenes of warrior-buddy repartee with The Rock, gets killed. The three surviving G. I. Joes, jump into a well and avoid bullets from overhead by sinking into the water. The three are The Rock, who is now commander of the unit since Channing got killed, Flint (played by D. J. Cotrano, who may enter the ranks as one of my newer guy crushes), and a really great gal soldier, Jaye, played by Ohio native Adrienne Palicki, who should be playing much bigger roles in better movies.
Meanwhile, the President, or the guy we think is the President because in reality he’s an evil double, played by Jonathan Pryce, who did have too much fun playing two roles in the same movie, has accused the G.I. Joes of dereliction of duty, so the threesome has to go off by itself and get the bad guys from Cobra, that is lead by wicked arms dealer, Zartan (South African actor, Arnold Vosloo.)
All kinds of stuff happens, mostly with guns of varying sizes, explosions, dropping bodies and nastiness. So much stuff that somebody like me zones out and keeps wondering, so what? (For the record, my companion kept saying, “Awesome!” I stopped sharing my popcorn with him.)
Making a dramatic and memorable entrance is the wild martial arts warrior, Storm Shadow, played with suitable intensity by Korean actor Byung-hun Lee. Reflecting director Jon M. Chu’s love of dance (Step Up 2: The Streets), all the martial arts scenes are gorgeously choreographed and I could have watched those scenes over and over. Especially the scenes with Jinx, played by Paris-born Elodie Yung, who is quite fantastic in her blood red martial arts outfit and spins a mean sword.
Alas, there were more bullets than ballet moves in the film, so it soon returned to action-packed Boresville. The Rock, as the character Roadblock, has a presence throughout, but he never shows his toothy white grin or raises that one eyebrow in fake hostility, so there wasn’t even any fun watching him.
On the positive side, there’s lots of exciting outdoor footage, such as deserts and mountains, and plenty of locations in Louisiana.
That’s it. I have nothing more to say about this movie. I forgot it almost completely the minute I walked out of the theatre. I have no idea if all the other filmgoers who contributed to the film’s $130,000,000 take did the same thing or not.