The Joes are back. Sort of. Duke (Channing Tatum) returns sans Ripcord, Heavy Duty, General Hawk, Scarlett, and Cover Girl — the original Joes from Rise of the Cobra who are nowhere around or accounted for. In their stead are a squad of unnamed soldiers whittled down to four new Joes who attempt to carry the movie with a little help from Bruce Willis.
After a successful mission in Pakistan in which the Joes retrieve a nuclear warhead, the entire unit is backstabbed by a sudden attack initiated by the President of the United States — he’s actually Zartan in disguise. The three surviving Joes — Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and Flint (D.J. Cotrona) — trek the desert and find their way back to the States while Cobra agents attack a secret prison to free the imprisoned Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) and Stormshadow (Byung-hun Lee). On the homefront, the Joes seek the help of the one man they can trust: General Joseph Colton (Willis).
On the other side of the world, Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and apprentice Jinx (Elodie Yung) target Stormshadow for a grab-and-go. When it’s revealed that Stormshadow was framed for his master’s murder, the ninja joins the Joes to retake the White House and save the world from Cobra Commander’s schemes. It’s a mess of a movie filled with plot holes, poor execution, and bad scripting. Planned for a 2012 release, the movie was pushed back after Battleship and John Carter of Mars bombed. A year later, G.I. Joe: Retaliation hits theaters, and the final result is a movie that takes itself seriously but falls flat on its face because the end result is a hodge podge of scenes that could be recut to parody itself. During a nuclear summit, the President of the United States (he’s actually Zartan, remember?) launches nuclear missiles on the attending leaders’ countries. Each leader in turn — apparently, they were prepared for situations like this — has a suitcase opened in front of them, and each decide to launch a counter strike on all of the other countries. When the President makes a show of blowing up the missiles before they reach their targets, the others do the same. It’s the train wreck of a scene that’s so hard to turn away from. It almost feels like the movie itself is a punishment for paying ticket holders who came for the Joes or just for Willis.