You don’t need to have seen the first G.I. Joe film to see G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but it might help to understand what’s going on.
The “Cobra-Commander” (Bracey) is being held in a “special” prison in East Germany. The G.I. Joes, led by their commander “Duke” (Tatum), are sent on a mission to seize nuclear weapons in Pakistan. The mission is a success and the team is awaiting extraction when they come under a sudden and violent attack.
Everyone on the team dies, except “Roadblock” (Johnson), “Flint” (Cotrona) and “Lady Jaye” (Palicki). They were betrayed by the “President” (Pryce)… except that it isn’t really the president. He is in the hands of “Zartan” (Vosloo), who is using technology to impersonate him.
The three survivors, mourning the loss of their teammates, especially Duke, return to the U.S. and set up shop in an abandoned rec center in the inner city. While this is going on, “Storm Shadow” (Byung-hun) impersonates “Snake Eyes” (Park) to be imprisoned with the Cobra-Commander. Once inside he manages to break them both out, aided by “Firefly” (Stevenson). Storm Shadow is hurt and goes into the mountains to recuperate, where Snake Eyes and “Jinx” (Yung) aim to capture him.
Needing help to foil the plans of the Cobra-Commander, Roadblock and crew visit retired “General Joseph Colton” (Willis) to try to find out if the President really is who he is supposed to be. Zartan, still pretending to be President, organizes a meeting of the leaders of the eight nations that have nuclear weapons, to try to achieve a nuclear-free world. But the Cobra-Commander has a different agenda and it is up to the Joes to save the world once again.
The plot is predictable. That’s not a surprise or unexpected in and of itself. What was surprising is that director Jon M. Chu manages to deliver a fine mix of great action with just the right touch of humor to give audiences a nicely done popcorn flick.
There are the usual very minor missed details regarding things military, questionable science behind plot points and more; however, those things don’t detract from the fact this is a lot of fun to watch. He may not be using the name “The Rock” in his films, but Dwayne Johnson portrays the kind of rock-hard enlisted man who rises to the rank of Sergeant-Major in the Special Forces; and who has the ability to take charge and assure victory. Cotrona and Palicki are good as his team members and it’s nice to see Jonathan Pryce in a role where he can shine like this. He gives both sides of the good/evil coin quite well.