Director: Jon M. Chu
Starring: Dwayne Johnson, Jonathan Pryce, Adiranna Palicki, Channing Tatum, Bruce Willis, Byung-hun Lee, D.J. Cotrona .
Written by: Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick
Running Time: 110 mins
Release date: 23rd March 2013
Before I start, I want to make it absolutely clear that I liked G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra. It has a guilty pleasure feel about it. Utter nonsense but it had the good sense to realise that and so it was utter nonsense that was entertaining. The same can’t be said for the sequel, that has taken almost a year to get released (when Paramount pulled it from last year’s Summer line-up to work on the 3D process, even though the truth was to add extra scenes, favoured by test audiences). The main problem with the new film is that, yes it’s rubbish…and that’s it!
The G.I. Joes, an elite fighting force are constantly battling Cobra, a gang of villains wanting to rule the world. Having kidnapped the President and replacing him with an imposter, Cobra set about destroying the Joes. Only three members survive and led by Roadblock, they must prove the President isn’t who he says he is while trying to stop Cobra from destroying the world with a new super weapon. The Joes only way is to call in a few favours from some unexpected sources.
First up, if you haven’t seen the first film, you might be a little lost with some of the subplots. We get a brief introduction of characters but they fly past us so quickly you wonder who is actual good and who is bad. It hardly matters though, when character development seems the last thing on the mind of director Jon M. Chu. All he seems interested in is blowing things up, having big guns and a total lack of plot, tension and pace. The man whose previous directing credits include two Step Up sequels and the Justin Bieber documentary, Never Say Never, seems a strange choice to take on a massive blockbuster like this. His lack of experience in directing action shows. He doesn’t know what to show, so we get random shots of bullets going into walls when you should be concentrating on who is winning fights, the mini wars are cut so haphazardly that you just don’t have a clue who is who and what they are doing. Fine if you are making a high energy dance film but for this kind of movie, there has to be some ideas as to who is winning and who is losing.
So once we have gone from one set piece to another and then another and another, there seems any lack of progression or building of tension. Without giving too much away, a scene which should have been shocking and a major surprise, just lacks any real emotion and it’s more like “so what?”
Then there’s the acting. In films like this, you aren’t expecting Oscar contenders but you do expect more than just cardboard cutouts. On the whole, Dwayne ‘The Rock” Johnson is a reasonable actor. He’s a sight better than most action stars but he seems to lack the ability to carry a film. He works best when doubled up with someone else. So the scenes between him and Channing Tatum work well. The scenes between him and Bruce Willis work well. The scenes between him and fellow Joes Adiranna Palicki and D.J. Cotrona (who?) amount to nothing interesting at all. Ms Palicki looks stunning and is able to kick butt too but Mr Cotrona doesn’t seem to have any reason to be there. Tatum, the star of the first film, has very little screen time to really give us anything and the same applies to Willis, apart from the odd wise crack. Even Jonathan Pryce, reprising his role as The President, who gets to play good and bad, seems somewhat bored.
What I really liked about the first film was the injection of fun and laughs. It didn’t take itself too seriously. Here, the fun has gone and we get endless slow motion sequences with rock music playing in the background and explosions after explosions. Unfortunately it can only lead to one thing. Boredom. It becomes very dull very quickly and at 110 mins, it feels like a long journey. As Skyfall proved, you can make excellent action films with the right director. This is what is needed here. By the way, the 3D was a waste of time. G.I. Joe? More like G.I. Junk.