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G.I. Joe: Retaliation' blows (up)

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Action sequel unfocused and uninteresting

It's never a good sign when a movie misses its initial release date. Sure, there's always some excuse, but no matter what they wind up 'fixing,' you can rest assured that you're almost certainly not going to get a classic piece of cinema out of the deal.

'G.I. Joe: Retaliation,' the not-so-eagerly-anticipated sequel to 2009's 'G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra,' was supposed to hit theaters last year, but it got pulled and (one assumes) frantically reworked before finally being released.

Too little, too late.

The Joes are an elite fighting force doing their best to serve the interests of their country. However, the President of the U.S. (Jonathan Pryce, 'Hysteria') is actually Zartan, a master of disguise and agent of terrorist organization COBRA. It is arranged for the Joes to be framed and wiped out while on a covert mission. Zartan to free his leader Cobra Commander from prison and they proceed to take over the White House or something.

The only Joes who survived the attack are Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson, 'Snitch'), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki, 'Red Dawn') and Flint (D.J. Cotrona, 'Dear John'). The three of them then set out to get revenge for their fallen comrades, as they have somehow immediately determined who set them up in the first place.

Meanwhile, in another story arc, we find Snake-Eyes (Ray Park, 'Avarice') and Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee, 'I Saw the Devil') doing their whole 'lifelong mortal enemies' thing. Snake-Eyes and newcomer Jinx (Elodie Yung, 'The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo') wind up kidnapping Storm Shadow from a mountain lair (in what is probably the best action sequence in the movie) so that he'll help them for some unclear reason.

The Joes then come together; with the help of a retired general who is apparently the reason they're called Joes (Bruce Willis, 'A Good Day to Die Hard'), they converge on the White House in an attempt to thwart COBRA's ridiculously convoluted plan to take over the world.

This is a big, dumb movie. Unfortunately, it isn't engaging enough on any level to actually be that much fun. Sure, there are occasional moments  very occasional that land. There's a cliffside ninja battle, after all what's not to like about that? But for the most part, it's all very bland stuff that doesn't even have the decency to look particularly good.

Johnson isn't terrible; at the very least, he wears the movie's flaws lightly. Palicki and Cotrona might as well be carved out of blocks of wood. Pryce has some moments he's too good to be in this movie. And Bruce Willis is here for one reason; the subtext of every line he speaks is essentially 'I wonder when the check clears.'

Rumor has it that the revamp came about because Channing Tatum (who starred in the first film) inexplicably became a movie star in the past year or so. They brought him back and filmed some more stuff that got tacked onto the front of the movie. His 15 minutes of bromance with the Rock might be the best part of the movie. After that, it's an hour of generically bland action.

'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' just isn't good. There's very little of redeeming value here. And I recognize that we're talking about a film inspired by action figures. I'm not asking that this film be intellectually challenging or thought-provoking. Big and dumb is fine.

Leave out the fun, though, and we've got a problem.

1.5 out of 5

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