Bad science, bad logic, bad arse action


Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson as Roadblock
D.J. Cotrona as Flint
Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye
Darth Maul as Snake Eyes
Elodie Yung as Jinx
Bruce Willis as Gen. Joe Colton
with Byung-hun Lee as Storm Shadow The Cloud
and some other guys as generic costumed super villains

Before beginning the guts of this review, I must admit that I never watched the original G.I. Joe released in 2009. I don’t remember why I didn’t watch it, but it was probably because it looked a bit too silly and juvenile for my tastes. Also, I had no money, so that didn’t help much either.

Anyway, the first I heard of G.I. Joe Retaliation was in a trailer during a preshow ad bonanza at Hoyts. The trailer promised much gratuitous explosive effects, superweapons and Bruce Willis. Come on, this movie is going to have Dwayne Johnson AND Bruce Willis in it. What could go wrong? Actually, I didn’t much like the premise of the movie, too cheesy, a bit camp and probably a lot brain dead. However, The Boss insisted we watch it because of the actor who plays the ninja. I said I would watch it for the other ninja.

So, in all honesty, expectations were very low going into this film. The expectations of fantastic stunts, gun fights and explosions were all fulfilled. But, since I’m not fourteen anymore, plus the fact that being an engineer makes any bad science in movies a little bit embarrassing, it was one of those times where the brain just switched off and hoped that the popcorn could alleviate some of the lunacy and band of brothers cliches that kept popping up all over the place.

So the movie starts off with some sneaking around by The Rock’s character Roadblock. Now, I used to think Vin Diesel was huge, but The Rock towers over him. How does he even sneak? Actually, more to the point, how did Vin Diesel beat The Rock in a straight fist fight in Fast and Furious? I digress. Then, there’s some sort of exposition about the state of the G.I. Joes versus what Cobra’s members are doing (or not, since they’re in captivity).

Then, the team heads off to make sure some nuclear warheads don’t get knocked off by terrorists. This is done via a gunfight and some parkour (with heavy machine guns strapped to backs of soldiers). Mission success! Many dead terrorists and nuclear warheads safe and sound. Except the elite of the elite soldiers are also freaking stupid. They decamp to a secret desert base. Except that it’s brightly lit with floodlights and they spend their time shooting at things with really big Gatling guns. Really? You’re surprised most of the team is wiped in an air assault out except for Roadblock, the Rookie and the obligatory strong and attractive female lead character? Because I bet the floodlighting really helped with that. What if those terrorists you just shot had friends and they came looking for you? Wouldn’t you want some semblance of security?

So, it turns out there’s a plot and the President of the United States is an imposter who shape shifted into his likeness and disbands the G.I. Joes. OK, so I follow you. This is a plot to take over the world by the evil doer Cobra Commander. Actually, I’m thinking that these names are just a bit too silly and 1960s for the new millennium no? Why is it that Marvel and DC Comics can come up with superhero names that don’t sound ridiculous even though the characters are even older? Oh, that’s right, because those characters actually have private lives that are complicated and we can relate to them as people.

Back to the film. Part of the plot to take over the world is to get Cobra Commander out of captivity so he can resume his plotting and path of destruction. Storm Shadow (really? What a crap name. Might as well call yourself The Cloud), the ninja sneaks in to a top secret prison facility under disguise and gets the job done with some help from his mate who looks like a homeless guy but has remote control explosive fireflies and a motorbike that was a Transformer swarm of explosive components. That was a really cool, but pointless bit of CGI, really. Also, all the guards were dead, what was stopping you from doing a more controlled demolition of the building?

At this point, the story gets pretty silly. The Cloud gets injured and is taken away to recover in a giant ninja temple. Ninjas on the good side must capture him and take him back to Japan to sort out why he’s behaving like a jerk. Cue spectacular cable sword fighting scene in the Himalayas. Then, he remembers why he’s acting like such a jerk. He was framed for murdering his master. He joined the bad guys to get revenge for being framed. In that case, why the hell didn’t he kill the bad guys when he had a chance during the prison breakout?

Then, we move on to the big unveiling of the Cobra Commander’s brand spanking new superweapon after some nuclear brinksmanship. The superweapon, as you’ve guessed forms the crux of the story. I’ll spoil it now, it’s destroyed with one second to spare by Roadblock sending an abort command (Wait…what? That’s a crap design of a superweapon!). Everyone’s happy at the end because they all get promotions. Now, on to the bad science part.

The principles behind the superweapon are sound. Shoot an object from space and due to the high speed, it will do a hell of a lot of damage. Definitely beats a laser beam. But herein lies the question. How did they get those satellites up there? They’re pretty big, look extremely heavy and use a LOT of power and would have taken years to get up there with rockets. Didn’t the CIA and FBI wonder what was going on? More to the point, didn’t every other intelligence agency? Rocket launches are pretty rare and spectacular events. Then there’s the weapon itself.

In a demonstration of its awesome power, the satellite shoots an arrow shaped projectile out of its chute and it plunges into central London at quite high speed which causes catastrophic damage with a giant seismic shockwave. Great. Except an arrow wouldn’t do that because they’re designed to pierce and not explode. You’d need a really big explosion. And Cobra Commander explicitly states it’s just a really freaking dense and heavy arrow. It also doesn’t seem to have any aerodynamic control surfaces so it’s dumb. There’s no way that it can control its impact angle so you can’t predict if it will do what you want it to. Ironically it’s shown that the satellite holding these arrows can move the thing around like it was a table tennis ball.

Also, there’s a scene where Bruce Willis shoots everyone at the White House from the back of a ute whilst it’s spinning around at high speed. He would have fallen off if not for the harness he was wearing. How did they get this right but not the other bits?

I tried to like the movie. It’s meant to be fun and silly but it turned out to be just plain silly. There’s no rhyme nor reason for the characters’ choices in life and it just smacks of lazy scripting. If you have a choice to watch this and something else, like an entire movie about miming, pick the miming. At least it will show some skill in acting.


This movie is so bad it’s…actually it’s still bad.

Should I watch this?

Back away…slowly. No, they haven’t noticed you yet. Keep going.


2 thoughts on “G.I. Joe: Retaliation

  1. One thing I hated was at the end, Roadblock takes the pistol and grabs it with his finger on the trigger as he picks it up. As a gunny, you don’t put your finger on the trigger till you are ready to shoot. But I digress

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