Confession: I did not play with G.I. Joes when I was a kid. I was never into toys, unless they were called movies or books. Without knowing anything about the world of the Joes, I ventured into the first film with a clean slate. A confession more embarrassing would be that I enjoyed it. Embarrassing since every fanboy seemed to have hated it. I didn't have any expectations and I found myself not getting bored for a single second. Dumb as hell, yes. But boring? Never. It was what they call "a popcorn movie".
The sequel was green-lit with the intention of deleting everybody's memory of the first film. A fair objective. It has its share of semi-cool action scenes and one-liners. My favorite one being where the President remarks "It is supposed to be a thankless job but yesterday I got to hang out with Bono". There are big explosions, a global dominion at stake, fight sequences with swords being thrown at us with the help of a third dimension. When your eyes and ears are being bombarded constantly, I bet why anybody would want to tax their brains with a labyrinthine plot. I don't mind dumb action movies. In fact, they could be more enjoyable than intelligent action films. What I dislike more than the stupid ones are the boring ones. The film at various points, becomes dreary and well, just plain boring. It is simply not that much fun.
I don't like giving away spoilers but what worked for me and what didn't, involve the big spoilers.
I love bad guys turning good. Naturally, I enjoyed the Storm Shadow/ Snake Eyes sub-plot the most. This was probably the only thing that made me care for the story or the action.
One major decision was to let go of Channing Tatum from the franchise and replace him with someone with more testosterone. I wonder why anybody would do that. Just when his career is on the rise and he is learning to act, they bump him off when in fact, it could have benefitted from his presence. The film was delayed by a year, certain footage was added with him, post the successes of 21 Jump Street and Magic Mike last year.
(End of spoilers)
The film is made to rest on the bulky shoulders of Mr. Dwayne Johnson. I know a lot of people like him, I did too. When I was a teenager and when he was in WWF (not even E… F!) and when I knew him as The Rock, which could have foreshadowed everything there is to say about his acting skills. I just cannot take him seriously when he is on the cinema screen simply because he can't act. I sometimes feel he can't tell the difference between the films he stars in. Please Hollywood, stop giving him top billing.
Bruce Willis is wasted. As much as I would like him walking around any action film to make it look good, I don't understand why any actor would sleepwalk through any film.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is ultimately a miscalculation. Lots of decisions gone wrong. It isn't that much of a bad movie. Given the circumstances, it doesn't insult your intelligence as much it could. It doesn't become ridiculous or laughable. Apart from a gun glorification montage, which would make the NRA proud, it is just about fine. But what went wrong? I don't think that is the question worth asking. What did not go right? That would be something to mull over when the suits sit down for their next meeting. The keyword should be: screenplay. If that's too much, here's another one: fun.