Within the first 20 minutes of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a direct continuation of the last film spun-off from a popular toy line and Saturday morning cartoons, the most respected of the American heroes becomes the most wanted “home-grown” terrorist in the world. Obviously, they want payback — and of course — world order.

As seen in the last film, the villain terrorist organisation Cobra had infiltrated the White House when their go-to impersonator expert Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) took the guise of the President (Jonathan Pryce). It is now months later and Zartan orchestrates the rescue of Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey with the voice of Robert Baker, taking over the role from Joseph-Gordon Levitt). He then hoodwinks the Joes into a mission to break into Pakistan and secure its nuclear warheads when the country goes into crisis after the assassination of its president.

It is a harrowing sight: the Joes — led by Channing Tatum’s Duke, with support from Roadblock, Lady Jaye and Flint (Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, Adrianne Palicki and D.J. Cotrona) — swing down, unheard, into a secure military base, beat down half-shrouded terrorists who were already in process of smuggling the warheads. Apparently, in big-budget Hollywood blockbusters National Security is still halwa (and people wonder why the film is banned here).

A massive air-strike later, the remaining Joes scamper back and plan retribution, while in another corner of the hemisphere (Tokyo), the mute and stylishly clad in black ninja Snake Eyes (Ray Park) goes after the Cobra assassin Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) with Jinx (Elodie Yung), his fellow swords woman in training.

From the get-go this G.I. Joe film moves with the mindset of an eight-year-old playing with his toy set in the backyard: high-tech vehicles blast villains, heroes and villains battle in “who-are-you-kidding” scenarios (there’s an eye-catching, edge-of-the-seat sword fight on top of snow-capped mountains) and by the end evil (and a major city) bites the dust.

Retaliation is an unadulterated blockbuster. It isn’t bamboozling itself or the audience on what it is. You have got to give it points for that. And besides, it’s hard not to get swiped-up by the action, especially when everyone is having so much fun.

Presented by Paramount, MGM and Skydance in association with Hasbro, produced by di Bonaventura Pictures, directed by Jon M. Chu with a screenplay by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, G.I. Joe: Retaliation also stars Bruce Willis as a throw-away character based on the “real” and “vintage” G.I. Joe (he is called Joe, after the first G.I. Joe action figure from the 1950s). The film is rated PG-13. — Mohammad Kamran Jawaid


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