The first G.I. Joe film proved a shamelessly enjoyable piece of throwaway action nonsense, in large part thanks to the playful team dynamic and the fact nobody was expecting anything from the film at all. Jon Chu’s sequel was originally due for release last summer, only to be pulled at the last minute and post-converted into 3D. Rumours abound that the producers also wanted to renege on their decision to kill off Duke, as actor Channing Tatum had in the interim become a major box office draw.
However, for the most part this proves not to be the case. Duke does still buy it in the opening act, leaving Dwayne Johnson’s Roadblock to lead the G.I. Joes in retaliation, after the President (Jonathan Pryce) is abducted and the team is all but wiped out by Cobra agents. Korean superstar Lee Byung-hun returns in a bigger, more heroic role than before, while none other than Bruce Willis turns up – as the originial “Joe” – to help bolster some star power and see off the bad guys.
What has changed most is how the team has evolved from being top secret supersoldiers somewhat reminiscent of the X-Men, to nothing more than a goofy Special Forces unit. There are a few impressive action sequences – most notably a cliff-face repelling ecape/chase that was widely screened as a tease ahead of the film’s release, but for the most part this feels forced, dated and incredibly dumb.