Jon M. Chu’s 2013 toy-based sequel G.I. Joe: Retaliation is inappropriately cruel for a movie based on children’s toys/cartoons/comics, in which nobody ever really got hurt. The gun fetishism is unsurprising, but it is surprising that its heroes and villains both shoot to kill. There’s a spectacular amount of onscreen death: first half the cast, then an entire city.
It’s also a mess structurally — particularly all the ninja business, which seems crudely spliced in from a different movie. But it does have its pleasures:
- The pure action poetry of the mountainside monastery fight sequence.
- Jonathan Pryce clearly enjoying himself. You know he positively leapt at the chance to play an evil master of disguise impersonating the US President. But today, the assumed reverence for the Commander in Chief now seems like it’s from another century.
- Lee Byung-hun’s torso. My goodness.
- Campy Cobra Commander strutting in slow motion never stops being funny.
- A handful of actually amusing one-liners, so props to whomever punched up the script — wish you could have fixed more.