Review – G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an Average Saturday Morning Cartoon


I went into a screening of G.I. Joe: Retaliation last night not expecting much, but hoping for the best, and I came away feeling mildly entertained.  This sequel isn’t ashamed to liberally use the Joe license, but unfortunately I didn’t find the packaging to be very exciting.  Something just felt off.  Retaliation has all the ingredients to be a fantastic homage to the classic toy line and cartoon series, but it’s frenetic pace and hollow character interactions left me feeling bored at times.

The plot is so ridiculous that it should work, but it never sunk its hooks into my imagination to make me care about what the Joes were facing.  The essence of this G.I. Joe film is no different than what you’d find in the old cartoon series.  Cobra Commander and his forces try to take over the world, and the G.I. Joes must stop them.  In a 30-minute setting this type of generic plot works just fine, and it’s what made the G.I. Joe cartoons so popular in the first place.  Unfortunately, when this model gets applied to a 2 hour live action movie it doesn’t translate so well.  From the beginning of the movie I knew exactly how it would end up, because I had already seen it take place a thousand times over as a young fan of the G.I. Joe cartoon.

Cobra Commander tries to take over the world….again


Retaliation tried to convince me that it is more than just a movie about a toy line, but I never bought into its claim.  The action is definitely high octane, but it feels hollow due to the fact that it’s PG-13 in nature.  I fully understand why movies like this get a soft rating, but sometimes the compromise spoils the fun.  I’m sorry but I just can’t buy into a movie that utilizes violent tools of destruction that don’t provide an ounce of blood from the foes they vanquish.

I’m not some blood thirsty maniac, but if I’m watching a movie about an elite force of soldiers who wield massive guns and razor sharp blades, I expect to seem some bloodshed.  Somehow our life giving liquid remains absent in a majority of the intense battle scenes featured in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and that made the film seem even more ridiculous than it already is.  How can the likes of Storm Shadow, Snake Eyes, and Jinx not draw a single ounce of blood when wielding their blades with deadly accuracy?

Snake Eyes’ swords are nerfed in Retaliation


This is the same issue I have with Wolverine in the X-Men films, and his stand alone movie.  Grant it both of these franchises are about as real as the Easter Bunny, but how can anyone expect me to believe in these fantasy worlds if swords don’t cause blood to ooze from the skin it slices, and bullets don’t do any physical damage to the flesh they enter.  At one point a Cobra soldier gets blown up and not a single giblet of human remains comes forth from the explosion!  I would have to pull some footage, but there may be more blood in an episode of The Real Housewives of New Jersey than G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

The lack of blood isn’t the only cheesy part of Retaliation.  The dialogue is full of soldier speak that you’ve heard a thousand times over in military based video games such as Call of Duty.  I’ve never heard “OORAH” spoken more times than it gets said in this film, and by the end I was ready to bitch slap the next person who said it.  I feel like a hard ass Marine wrote the script rather than a soft handed Hollywood scribe, which would have been awesome if Retaliation actually featured any sort of realistic military action.

OORAH is definitely the perfect saying when Lady Jaye is in the room


One positive note about this movie is Dwayne Johnson, aka The Rock, who at this point in time has fully cemented his position as the new ultimate male action star.  This dude is freaking ginormous and is easily one of the most imposing individuals I’ve ever seen on the silver screen.  I hate to say this, but he makes Arnold look like a girly man.  I know that is sacrilegious to say, because Arnold is Hollywood royalty, but Johnson could eat him for lunch.  He is a tank of a man in this film, and his role is one of the few that is actually believable.

Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock


Mediocrity seemed to be present in every aspect of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, and I should have saw it coming a mile away.  For some reason I thought that some cool 3D effects, The Rock, and a few well placed explosions could make this flimsy film franchise an entertaining experience, but they never came through like I expected.  I can see where hardcore Joe fans may get some enjoyment from this sequel, but if you’re just looking for a new movie to watch this weekend I can’t recommend that you spend your money on Retaliation.

It’s definitely a perfect candidate for the dollar theaters, or a rental when it comes out for home release.  For its many failures and minor highlights I have to give G.I. Joe: Retaliation 6.5 out of 10 Buddhas.  I was hoping for 2 hours of nonsensical action movie awesomeness, but what I got was a live action cartoon devoid of anything that could be described as badass.  Trust your gut on this one, because its probably right.  You’ve been thinking the catchphrase should be changed to “NO JOE!”…

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

EB 6.5 out of 10 Buddhas

The Awesome

  • The Rock cements his status as the ultimate action star
  • Lady Jaye

The Not so Awesome

  • Boring and predictable plot
  • Absent of any sort of realism due to PG-13 rating


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Tags : GI Joe RetaliationMovie Review
Matt Heywood

The author Matt Heywood

Matt Heywood is the founder and EIC of where he strives to make you a better geek, one post at a time! When he’s not scouring the Internet for interesting nuggets of awesomeness he can be found in his secret lair enjoying the latest and greatest video games, taking pictures of toys, or talking Star Wars on EB’s Star Wars Time podcast show.