James Smith’s quick-fire insight into the world of movies. Here he checks out G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D, a formulaic bicep flexing action workout of the 3D variety.

Directed by Jon M. Chu

Starring Dwayne Johnson, Adrianne Palicki, Bruce Willis

If your idea of relaxation is to watch a movie with a mix of brain meltdown, gung ho firearms action, and martial art acrobatics, then G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the one for you. And while you’re at it, go the whole hog and throw in the 3D option as well.

Indeed, this macho extravaganza starring Dwayne Johnson sits in a genre appealing to a growing demographic - and a considerable one to account for the whopping $135,000,000 budget for this flick. One can only assume that its predominant target audience is male-dominated with a liking for stuff that blows up spectacularly on a regular basis. G.I. Joe is a clear example of the crossover taking place been video gaming and action movies. The techie graphics, pumping soundtrack, and fast paced storyline all draw parallels to the Xbox games world, and will attract the same market. The action is slick and brilliantly directed by Jon M. Chu, with a smattering of humour throughout the plentiful posturing and man talk. Adrianne Palicki provides some relief from the testosterone heads of Dwayne Johnson who plays ‘Roadblock’ and sidekick Channing Tatum as Duke, and there’s no shortage of spirited female butt kicking, especially with some superb martial arts stand offs.

As for the story, well, think Bond-style with Jonathan Pryce playing a nutty clone of the President intent on world domination by imposing bizarre games of nuclear Russian roulette on world powers. The barmy plot is clearly secondary to the visual fiesta and seems to suffer from too many characters vying for opportune moments to display their fighting skills. If the G.I.’s with their obscene arsenal of firepower is not enough, we then have the competing forces of ‘Snake Eyes’ - who oddly looks like the gimp from Pulp Fiction - and Byung-hun Lee playing ‘Storm Shadow’ who prefers to make life hard for himself by using a couple of sabres whilst his foes spray machine gun rounds at him. Quite what these wannabe Marvel comic heroes are doing in this macho shoot-em-up is anyone’s guess, but they do add further spice to the imaginative fight sequences. On that note, the expansive shots in this movie, particularly the mountain sequences, are outstanding in 3D. The closer hand-to-hand fighting, however, is sometimes a muddle and an area where the format does not excel.  One thing’s for sure, though: G.I. Joe: Retaliation 3D is a fantastic display of the extra dimension and well worth checking out for that reason alone.

On a final note, we have to mention Bruce Willis who turns up as General Joe Colton to give the G.I.’s a helping hand with his home stash of chrome - enough to arm a small nation. This must have been a nice gig for Willis, no doubt with a decent paycheck, but despite some cheesy ‘army guy’ lines to add to Dwayne Johnson’s repertoire, he adds enough humour and presence to prevent the film sliding into unwatchable mush.

Review by @jsmithwriter