Whether or not I liked the sequel to G.I. Joe is a no-brainer and, by that, I mean the movie has no brain. This is something I was completely expecting as I was one of the few who actually liked G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.

Keep in mind: “Liked” not “loved.”

I will freely admit that it was stupid and condemn anyone who says different, but it was big and dumb enough to like as a mindless adventure. Still, even I am surprised that it got a follow-up. Why not give Van Helsing a part two while you’re at it?

Actually… no, don’t.

In this half sequel/half reboot, the G.I. Joes are all but wiped out by the Cobra-infiltrated US Government and labeled as traitors while Cobra Commander and his goons hatch yet another plan to take over the world. Can the decimated Joes save the day as they must not only fight a ruthless terrorist organization, but also their own country as well? Can The Rock take Channing Tatum’s place? Why is it taking so long for them to put Shipwreck and Bazooka in a movie?

Retaliation is a step up from The Rise of Cobra, but then again I imagine that assorted types of foot fungus are also a step up from The Rise of Cobra. Still, as with the first extremely silly movie, Retaliation is a fun and mindless movie that manages to jettison some of the dumb things that didn’t work in The Rise of Cobra while replacing it with other things that kind of works and kind of doesn’t.

For one thing, and I know this sounds silly – but Retaliation feels more grounded in reality. Gone are the strength suits and underwater bases and, in their places, are just good old fashioned ninja fights and gun battles. Retaliation is far less gimmicky than its predecessor, that’s for sure.

Retaliation also keeps a lot of the tongue in cheek humor that makes it appealing and shows the audience that it isn’t taking itself seriously. It really helps sell a lot of the movie’s incredible bullpoop that it shovels.

On the downside, since The Rise of Cobra turned out to be nothing more than a disappointing prologue to a real G.I. Joe movie series, only getting to Destro and Cobra Commander during the last two minutes of the movie, it’s an incredible letdown when Destro is unceremoniously cut from the line-up less than ten minutes into the movie. Poor guy didn’t get a single line. What, was Christopher Eccleston not available? Trust me, guys… there are numerous examples of things continuing without Christopher Eccleston.

Retaliation is not a thinking man’s movie and I fully realize that it will not be for everyone, but in my opinion, it’s self-aware enough to get away with being silly, it’s got enough action to be exciting, and it improves on many of the shortfalls of the first movie — while shortfalling in other areas, yes, but the improvement outweigh the regressions.

The movie won’t be for everyone, but it’s really on par with some of the plots I came up with in my head when I played with G.I. Joes as a kid, so who am I to judge?

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Written by Jason Gaston

Father, teacher, writer, photographer, artist, actor, male model, and inventor of the semicolon.

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