So what exactly is wrong with this film? We can immediately single out the bad acting- It'd be impossible for anyone to provide an iota of evidence to support the idea that the casting agent thought any of the actors would perform well (Hell, the RZA is in this). Because I'm used to films with plastic-faced performances, It is easy for me to overlook this.
The acting wouldn't have been so much for other audiences to digest had the visual film-work not been such a dreadful experience. The Director, Jon M. Chu, and his team have yet to understand that we are beyond the age of orange-on-orange-on-orange film filtering and shaky-cam during action sequences. The result is everyone in the movie, besides blacks, looking Brazilian. Again, this is not a deal-breaker as, years ago, I thoroughly enjoyed the Star Trek movie with lens flare and all.
Then, of course, I get to talk about the plot. Where is it? Prior to this film's release I couldn't escape the countless interviews and articles detailing the 'shock' and 'real sense of danger' Chu wanted to incorporate into the film. The 'shock' is one that
jack Bauer 24 had been recycling for years: the killing of a major character and the outlawing of the others almost 15 minutes in. After that the plot line simply ends and there is no reason to listen to any dialogue for the remainder of the film. The synopsis on the back of the DVD should read: 'Duke dies and Roadblock doesn't'. This, while it should be the finishing move to any review, is not the reason why this movie sickens me to the core. So what is?
It is the antagonists that really throw this movie into a garbage heap. While it is hard to have an action movie without villains this film might as well have had the Rock punch into a tree for two hours. Say what you will about the first film but the dramatic over-performance of Joseph Gordon Levitt as Rex and Christopher Eccleston as Destro carried the film through its sheer stupidity. This movie, however, simply throws away Destro (despite him showing up for two scenes) and leaves Cobra pointlessly showing up to mumble something evil while Zartan, cloaked as the President, recycles the missile plan from the first film (Because it worked so well, right?). Even Snake Eyes' mortal enemy, Storm Shadow, gets a sudden awkward change of heart after having a short conversation with the RZA in a garden... really?
I am not one to compare sequels to their predecessors but this is one instance when a film should have looked to see what made the first, at least, a little charming in its childishness and carried it through. The fact that this movie has tried to take itself seriously has hindered its ability to entertain at all. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a reminder that terrible movies can just be terrible movies that not even Bruce Willis can save.