It's not enough to call this the rare franchise action movie to bring the goods; it's the even rarer one whose creators seem to understand what the goods even are. Your ticket should come with a fight card: squad versus squad, bruiser versus bruiser, ninja versus ninja, second-string ninja versus ancient ninja training lady, jeep-tank versus tank-jeep, bullets versus throwing stars, everyone versus Walton Goggins, dumb pleasures versus your higher brain function. Ninjas swing and zipline through Himalayan peaks, giving dizzier Spider-Man thrills than The Amazing Spider-Man bothered to. A three-soldier escape from deep in a well is more satisfying-- and abbreviated!-- than Bruce Wayne's ponderous pit-climb last summer. Charming Dwayne Johnson declaims Jay-Z as scripture to pump up his Joes before a mission; he's so commanding that nothing pump-uppable in you is likely to languish un-pumped. In short, if you think it's possible you might have a good time at a picture named G.I. Joe: Retaliation, you will almost certainly have a good time, though it's still dumb as catbutt. The script, from Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, is touched with absurdist comedy and some of-the-moment wingnuttery. Here's a movie in which gun-toting lugs become convinced the president is an imposter who they have to take out—not really something we should be encouraging so soon after 2016: Obama's America. But director Jon M. Chu comes to dudes-fighting filmmaking from the most welcome of backgrounds: directing dance. When his characters battle, we see the bodies of accomplished physical performers moving together through space, mostly in shots that the eye can actually track.
Jon M. ChuBruce Willis, Channing Tatum, Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Stevenson, Joseph Mazzello, Arnold Vosloo, Ray Park, Walton Goggins, Elodie YungRhett Reese, Paul WernickLorenzo di Bonaventura, Brian GoldnerParamount Pictures