Lorenzo di Bonaventura, producer of this crappy sequel to the crappy 2009 hit, says: "It was important to find a director ... who would be able to take all the multi-layered characters and treat them with gravity." He picked the right guy then with Chu, the maestro who previously gave us those heavy hitters Step Up 2 and 3 and the Justin Beiber documentary Never Say Never.
This second go-round stars Johnson as one of the few GI Joes left who is out for revenge on the enemy Cobras that have murdered his team. He's aided and abetted by Palicki and Cotrona as they track down the imposter President (Pryce) responsible for instigating their troubles. The incoherent plot also involves the return of Storm Shadow (Lee), nuclear warheads, Willis as a gung-ho addition to the outfit and numerous kinetic action sequences devoid of thrills and excitement. Tatum, who gets star billing on the posters, only appears on screen for about 10 minutes.
This is Hollywood moviemaking at its most pedestrian - it doesn't even try to do anything original as the lazy script goes from one indifferent set piece to the next. The dialogue is woeful, the direction slack, the narrative hopeless. It's slickly packaged but so lacking in personality and care that only the most strictly undemanding of cinemagoers will find it tolerable. Don't waste your time with it.
SECOND OPINION | Stuart O'Connor ★★ OK, GI Joe: Retaliation is not a total abomination. The Rock is terrific and seems to be enjoying himself; ditto Pryce. (Although for about the eighth film in a row, Willis looks like he would rather be anywhere else than on a film set). And there are some decent action set-pieces, none better than a fantastic sequence that takes place high in the Himalayas. But the for the most part, the film is incomprehensible, slightly-entertaining tosh. Your kids are gonna love it.