What happens when you run a movie with an ensemble cast but the script doesn’t allow for any character development and the actors couldn’t do much with what was given? You get “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” and action-feast that will leave you so full of action that you’d wish the film was longer to allow for a sensible plot and a sense of emotion.
Some movies rely on one or two main characters to carry the film. For example, “Iron Man 2” would have been ‘pretty good’ at best if it weren’t for Robert Downey Jr. and a standout performance by Mickey Rourke. “Skyfall” would not have made over a billion dollars if it weren’t for a combination of good writing and a magnetic performance by Daniel Craig.
On the other hand, if you have an ensemble cast, then the dialogue between characters becomes the main source to spark interest for the viewer. That’s what makes “Inception,” or a show like “Game of Thrones,” successful.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation” had neither, and that made stale all the action sequences the film had to offer.
Whether or not it is a coincidence that all three recent gargantuan-budgeted, Hasbro-inspired franchises (“G.I. Joe”, “Battleship”, “Transformers”) turned out to be mindless explosion-fests is for the viewer to decide. I happen to think that the source material don’t matter. Better movies could have been made out of these toys or games. The first “Transformers” showed promise. Even “Retaliation”s predecessor, “Rise of Cobra,” was better. Compared to the sequel, the first “G.I. Joe” was ripe with wit.
Despite what I said earlier, “Retaliation” isn’t unbearable. You can actually sit through it and have a decent time. In a snowy mountain-side scene that seemed separate from the rest of the film altogether, I experienced the first ‘wow’ feeling from the 3D technology in a long time, when a sword flew directly at my face and I swerved in my seat to dodge. And it really isn’t that hard to film nice-looking fight scenes with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. The guy keeps on showing flashes of awesomeness on the big screen ever since “The Rundown.” Come on man, find yourself a good script with a good director and become THE action hero!
If you have some time to kill in the middle of the day, and you’ve seen every other movie in the theatres, then go for “Retaliation.” You might just find a few moments of thrill out of movie’s 110 minute run time.