GI Joe: Retaliation

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Director: John M Chu
Cert: 12A
Genre: Action
Starring: Bruce Willis, Dwayne Johnson, Lee Byung-hun, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Park
Running Time: 1 hr 50 mins

Bigger, louder and, like, way more stupider than its predecessor, this unintentionally hilarious sequel to

GI Joe: The Rise of the Cobra

is the sort of film any sensible actor would risk every contractual obligation to escape. Luckily, young Channing Tatum is already a master at exiting franchises when the going gets crummy. Remember how he turned up at the start of

Step Up 2


to wave goodbye and head off for, well, anywhere else but here? The Tate is at it again. He and fellow obscurely defined paramilitary

Dwayne Johnson

are the best of buddies. They’re going to watch each other’s backs. Bromance is forever. You won’t need to be told that Channing is soon resting peacefully beneath six inches of recently shovelled dirt.

Dwayne and the surviving enforcers, each of whom appears to named for one of My Little Ponies, find themselves unjustly labelled as traitors and must go undercover – which, in this world, means driving big trucks while detonating industrial quantities of ordnance – to frustrate the evil machinations of President Jonathan Pryce. No, that's not quite right. President Pryce, currently under detention, has been replaced by a shape-shifting something-or-other with plans for world domination. And so forth. Bruce Willis assists as the type of retired general who communicates his former military status by saying "negative" when he means "no".

The presence of James Carville – former strategy guru to Bill Clinton – in a cameo role suggests that the folk behind GI Joe are harbouring an unexpected liberal political agendum (they can't quite stretch to an agenda, I fear). Torture is bad. Oppression is to be avoided. Democracy is a spiffing notion.

Unfortunately, the film-makers’ humanist leanings are somewhat undermined by a decision to nonchalantly – blink and you’ll miss it – engineer the annihilation of one of the world’s most populous cities. (We won’t say which city.) At the close, everybody hugs, claps and toasts a job well done. Never mind the eight million dead burghers. They were only foreigners, anyway. America, f**k yeah!

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke

Donald Clarke, a contributor to The Irish Times, is Chief Film Correspondent and a regular columnist