‘G.I. Joe’ really wants you to have a good time

By: By Frank Miller Special to The News Messenger
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“G.I. Joe: Retaliation”

Directed by Jon M. Chu

Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki and Bruce Willis

Three out of five stars


When a toy company is part of a movie’s opening credits, you know you don’t have to take it too seriously.

In fact, the more you treat “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” like a big inside joke, the more fun you’ll have with the film.

The sequel picks up some years later after the first film and finds Duke (Channing Tatum) leading missions with fellow soldiers Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (D.J. Cotrona).

After their team is all but decimated by the evil organization known as Cobra, led by the

grimly-voiced Cobra Commander; the remaining Joes must halt a plot to take over the world.

Along the way are ninja battles, tank assaults and an amusing cameo from Bruce Willis, playing legendary founding member Gen. Joe Colton.

The film takes great care to tone down the outlandish vibe of the first movie but still manages to peek through in a variety of ways. Characterizations are over-the-top, as are a number of action sequences, the highlight of which is a ninja melee on the side of a cliff.

While never truly excelling in any one given area, the film knows what it needs to deliver and does it in an effortless fashion. This is a property whose fans grew up making gun noises with their mouths and imagining their Joe figurines in a multitude of outlandish scenarios.

It’s only fair that a film adaptation of the G.I. Joe brand should try to match that imaginative quality and take it a step further. The film manages to strike a balance between action film and cartoon show and, since it’s largely bloodless, is a gateway film for younger audiences looking to dip their toes in more mature waters.

“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” isn’t going to set the world on fire or win any gratuitous adulation but it’s an exhilarating and efficient film that wants you to have a good time if you’re a connoisseur of its brand of cheese.

Frank Miller is a Sacramento writer.