G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Monday 09th December 2013

I have now watched both G.I. Joe films. This is a fact of which I am not particularly proud. I watched the first film for one reason only; Byung Hun Lee. But aside from one brief and poorly directed fight between Lee and Toad from X-Men, he was hardly given anything to do. So for that reason G.I. Joe was a huge disappointment. There were many other reasons; chiefly the terrible script, the erratic camerawork, the shoddy special effects and the lack of respect for basic physics. That last one was really the icing on the cake though. Anyone seen G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra? Just me. Thought so. Well, at the end of the film the evil forces of Cobra are amassed in their secret underwater base hidden beneath the arctic ice. The Joes decide to infiltrate the base and stop Cobra’s nefarious plans to blah blah blah the entire world. At this point Cobra Commander utters the immortal line “Detonate the ice pack.” Let me reiterate here in case you haven’t caught on; the Cobra base is beneath the arctic ice pack on the ocean floor. When Cobra Commander gives the order, the ice pack is blown up. With explosives.

“Why the hell would he do that?” I asked myself, out loud, as watching the film up until that point had already reduced my I.Q. by an estimated 85%, “What a waste of good explosives. He could have used those to blow up the pesky Joes.” But wait… Cobra Commander seemingly has a deeper understanding of physics than me, and everyone else who has any slight knowledge of physics whatsoever… because the ice pack splits up into hundreds of large icebergs… WHICH THEN SINK AND CRUSH THE BASE.

I am not making this up. What would I have to gain? The Rise of Cobra is really that retarded. Please, if you don’t believe me, watch the Ice Pack Siege on Youtube. Apologies for the poor quality; it was the only clip I could find. The dog barking in the background is presumably angered at the ridiculousness of Cobra Commander’s plan. Anyway it’s either this or watch the whole film, which I don’t recommend.

Yes, it seems no one involved in the production of G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra has ever been told that ice floats. In fact, they’ve never even put ice in a drink and made that observation for themselves. Aren’t these Hollywood people? It’s hot there, surely they put ice in most of their drinks… I’ve lost a lot of respect for everyone involved in this film. And look at the cast list; Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Christopher Eccleston, Sienna Miller, Jonathon Pryce, Byung-hun Lee and Marlon Wayans. Ok, maybe I didn’t need to mention Marlon Wayans, but surely they can’t all be that dim. And Stephen Sommers who has previously worked on such logical and scientific films as The Mummy, The Mummy Returns and The Scorpion King. How could such a widely experienced director stoop to this? It defies belief.

It doesn’t matter if they use explosives to break a huge piece of floating ice into smaller pieces; THE ICE WILL STILL FLOAT BECAUSE IT IS STILL LESS DENSE THAN WATER. At the very worst some of it will just melt and become more water, which I doubt will do the underwater base much harm as it’s already by definition under quite a substantial amount of water.

I could talk about this all day. It is literally the stupidest thing I have ever witnessed and some bunch of geniuses spent $175,000,000 to put it on the screen for us… How could this happen? No matter which way I look at it, an enormous collection of morons had to come together in one place, at one time, just as the stars were aligned for maximum stupidity, and simultaneously shove their heads up each other’s arses in a long line to shoot this. But that doesn’t even adequately explain it; before the ice was even (shoddily) created by the special effects team there must have been script meetings. People must have read this and said; “Oh yeah, the ice sinks and destroys the base. Makes sense.” What. The. Fuck.

Anyway, I actually intended to talk about G.I. Joe: Retaliation here, not because it’s particularly groundbreaking, purely because I watched it yesterday. First of all, I’d like to explain myself; you must be wondering why I would put myself through watching the sequel after the first film proved to be so earth-shatteringly incompetent?

For starters, there were a few strong additions to the cast. Although he’s been pretty lazy in his choice of roles recently, I still enjoy watching Bruce Willis shoot people. So that made Retaliation tempting. Then there’s Dwayne Johnson, who apparently had time to swoop in and save this franchise in between swooping in to save the Fast and Furious franchise and swooping in to save the WWF. Although his credentials might not necessarily show it, I happen to think The Rock is a highly competent action star. G.I. Joe could definitely do a lot worse than The People’s Eyebrow; for example, the first film had Marlon Wayans. Then there’s the legendary RZA of the Wu Tang Clan, who brings skill and determination to everything he does and has put in memorable film performances in American Gangster and his own martial arts movie The Man With The Iron Fists. Then there’s The Punisher of Punisher: Warzone who brings a big promise of unnecessary and gratuitous violence. On top of that, Walton Goggins who plays Boyd Crowder in Justified joins returning stars Byung-hun Lee, Channing Tatum, Jonathan Pryce, Imhotep (from The Mummy) and Toad to round off one of the most interesting ensemble casts in recent action history. Although a lot of these actors have smaller reputations than the cast of The Expendables, this film has the added advantage of not being written by Sylvester Stallone. However it also has the handicap of director John M. Chu, whose biggest project prior to G.I. Joe: Retaliation was the Bieber movie; a fact which should see him burning in hell for all eternity even if, against all odds, he goes on to become the greatest director in cinema history.

As you’ve probably noticed I had quite mixed feelings about this film. I doubt I would ever have bothered to watch it if it hadn’t happened to appear on Netflix. Having watched it I have to say it wasn’t as bad as I was expecting. I found the plot to be on a par with the first film in terms of originality (i.e. extremely lacking) but at the same time it made slightly more sense and was marginally less offensive to my brain. The cast for the most part did what they could with a pretty bad script. The dialogue is embarrassing in places, particularly the early scenes between Tatum and Johnson, but it’s generally functional and gets the plot across without causing too much bother. At one point Bruce Willis makes a cringeworthy joke about his cholesterol but I let him off the hook because he’d just killed about ten people while lying down. I was surprised at one point when he fell down the stairs but didn’t take the opportunity to whip out a quick broken hip punchline.

The action scenes are surprisingly very competently directed. Who would have thought the director of the Bieber monstrosity would know anything about anything when it comes to directing? I almost hate to say it, but there are a few scenes in G.I. Joe: Retaliation that managed to impress me. The best scene in the film is easily one in which Toad and Elodie Yung fight a bunch of Cobra douchebags while abseiling down a cliff with the paralysed body of Byung-hun Lee in tow (don’t ask). There are also some decent swordfights, a lot of passable explosions and some enjoyable gunfights too. The Rock doesn’t disappoint as he goes toe-to-toe with The Punisher. Byung-hun Lee pulls out some intricate swordplay worthy of one of his Korean film performances. And thanks to Willis and The Rock the film has a better sense of humour than the first one.

You’re probably thinking at this point that this is a very positive review for a film that, on the face of it, has been made for the sole purpose of selling toys. And you’d be right. Retaliation is no masterpiece. It’s not a great movie by anyone’s standards and there are many, many other films I would recommend to you before it even came up in conversation. However, it entertained me. So it’s vastly superior to The Rise of Cobra. And it didn’t make me angry.

Until the end. And this is the part I find difficult to believe. I’m not sure I can even describe how baffling this is to me; it’s incomprehensible. After the Ice Pack Fiasco I described earlier, surely they got someone to check over the script for this outing? It could have been anyone. Literally. Anyone could have made a more intelligent film than G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. I’m not boasting when I say that I could confidently go twelve rounds with Mike Tyson in his prime and then write a better script using my own liquefied brain matter for ink. In fact, I bet I could write a better script in my sleep using only my penis. Surely they could have found someone with a higher I.Q. than my penis to take a look at the script before they started shooting this $130,000,000 movie?

The answer to that question is apparently no. And the victim is once again the poor, downtrodden laws of physics. “Why?” I shouted at the screen, “What did physics ever do to you Hasbro?” But my pleas were in vain, it was too late, and physics had once again been shafted up the rectum by Hollywood’s blatant disregard for logic, reason and intelligence. Let me lay down what happens so you can share my resentment and anguish at this great injustice.

Cobra Commander (yes, we should have known he’d be the culprit) has once again decided to blah blah blah the entire world. Having taken this lofty goal upon himself he proceeds to engage all the world leaders in a game of what can only be described as nuclear poker. Of course, given that he never takes off that insane mirrored helmet, his poker face is untouchable and he inevitably wins. All the countries in the entire world including America (fuck yeah!) destroy their nuclear arsenals. Hooray! That’s good right? No more nukes? No more threat of mutually assured destruction. Maybe Cobra Commander’s not such a bad guy after all.

No. Cobra Commander is an utter, utter bastard. Somehow, despite being frozen in a top secret military facility since the first film, he found a spare five minutes to whip up a quick doomsday device which he subtly named Zeus. He explains that Zeus is a satellite containing a payload of big metal rods. It sounds terrifying doesn’t it? The idea is that these big metal rods can pick up enough speed as they fall to earth to destroy entire cities; a fact Cobra Commander plans to demonstrate by obliterating London. He explains the mechanics behind Zeus as follows; “Now, to direct the rod to its target, we don’t launch it or fire it… we drop it. Gravity does the rest.” Does anyone see the flaw in his reasoning here?

Yes, you’re right; THERE’S NO GRAVITY IN SPACE. How does Cobra Commander think the satellite stays up there? He built the bloody thing. The satellite is floating around the earth because there’s not enough gravity to pull it down. So if the rod is inside the satellite, when you release it… NOTHING WILL HAPPEN. At the very most, the rod will slowly and harmlessly float away from the satellite into an orbit of its own. It will not, I repeat, not drop down towards the earth, gathering speed as it goes, until it has enough potential energy to cause devastating death and destruction. No. It will float away very slowly and aimlessly. There is no way in hell this rod is going to destroy London. No way. It’s literally impossible according to everything we know about physics and space travel.

And it also won’t destroy London because that frickin’ idiot Cobra Commander clearly aimed it at Birmingham…

But wait, what the shit is this? The rod comes rocketing down from outer space and destroys London. Our beloved capital city is no more. It has been reduced to rubble by a gigantic, metal, American space phallus. That can’t be right. There must have been some kind of mistake here. Someone call Newton and ask him what happened…

I can’t believe they did it again. Assholes. What the hell do these morons have against physics? Or logic? Or even mild bouts of thinking? Not only is this one of the most glaringly retarded things I think I have ever seen in my life (after the aforementioned Ice Pack Fiasco) none of the other reviews I read of this film even mentioned it! Does this mean people are expecting this level of dumbfounding stupidity as a matter of course now? I guess it must do... Maybe we should all lobotomize ourselves immediately in preparation for next year’s Summer blockbusters. In fact, I think I might drill a hole through my own skull right now and yank my frontal lobe out completely just to fit in with the multitudes of people who paid to see this crime against evolution in the cinema.

I had just about calmed down from my extreme fit of rage at the success of Cobra Commander’s bone-headed scheme, when the Joes swooped in to save the day and rescue everyone. Hooray! Disaster averted! Smiles and back-slapping all round. Wait… what? Hey, you guys, what about London? I realise you saved America, which wasn’t even in danger as Cobra Commander lives there… but London’s been reduced to a physically-impossible smoking crater… what about us? We’re all dead. I mean, a minute’s silence would be nice… or even a passing mention. No? Okay, fine, you go ahead and light your cigars but I’d just like to make it clear that I’m not happy about this. If Washington D.C. had been leveled to dust by an absurdly irrational weapon you’d all be hanging your heads and shedding a tear at some bullshit Presidential speech about triumph in the face of adversity and blah blah blah. It’s okay though guys, it was only London, let’s hand out the medals and have a good laugh about it. Dickheads.

And it was going so well… okay maybe it’s more accurate to say it wasn’t going that badly. Did I enjoy G.I. Joe: Retaliation? For a while, yes, I think I did. Would I watch it again? No. Never. Would I recommend it to you? If you accidentally left your brain behind at the office or succumbed to some kind of vicious neural parasite that made you drool uncontrollably, yes, I might. On a serious note, there are far worse films you could waste your time watching; I wouldn’t recommend its predecessor The Rise of Cobra to the corpse of a half-trained circus animal. If you want to take any of that as me endorsing G.I. Joe: Retaliation, you only have yourself to blame.

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