"Jon M. Chu injects freshness and style into the franchise"
You might be forgiven for thinking that the new G.I. Joe instalment would suffer from the curse of the sequel, but thankfully that isn't the case at all, as Jon M. Chu - directing his very first action feature - injects freshness and style into the franchise.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation picks up where the 2009 original left off, only now Duke (Channing Tatum) is the leader of the Joes, who now seem to be a bigger military force than in the first offering. There's also a personnel change, there's no Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje as Heavy Duty or Marlon Wayans as Ripcord only the silent ninja Snake Eyes (Ray Park) from the original remains under his command. While this change may leave some fans questioning where they are, we do get the addition of Dwayne Johnson aka The Rock as second in command Roadblock and action legend Bruce Willis as General Joe Colton.
After being branded traitors and following an impressive air strike in the desert, the surviving Joes; Flint (D.J. Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) led by Johnson's Roadblock stay off the grid and team up with retired General Joe Colton as they work to clear their name and piece together exactly what has happened and who is responsible for the deaths of their brothers. At the same time, Storm Shadow, played once again by the brilliant Byung-hun Lee, hatches a plan to break Cobra Commander (now played by Luke Bracey) out of the high security prison that he was locked up in at the end of the 2009 film, and joined by the demented Firefly (Ray Stevenson) to set events in motion that will lay waste to the world.
Speaking of Firefly, he has some really impressive toys in the film; most notably his motorbike that transforms into guided missiles and the mini firefly's that blow stuff up - certainly providing the most fervent of G.I. Joe fans with much to be excited about. Meanwhile, Elodie Yung plays Jinx a young ninja who has some very impressive fight scenes, most notably the mountain scenes that are prominent in the trailers and British acting great Jonathan Pryce turns in an impressive performance as the U.S. President, showing two sides of the same coin; portraying both his lighter side as well as his darker side as he channels the villainous Zartan (Arnold Vosloo).
G.I. Joe: Retaliation has been written by writing duo Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, and has a much stronger plot and impressive set pieces than its predecessor. Despite the critical response being that of a rather negative one, I personally didn't think G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra was actually too bad a film, but that said, this latest picture is far superior in every way.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation is left wide open for a third entry into the franchise, and after watching the film as well as knowing what's in store for another iconic Hasbro property, I can't help but wonder if Paramount plan to merge the film franchises of G.I. Joe and Transformers in the same way as Marvel have done triumphantly to create Avengers Assemble. Now that I would be looking forward to.