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I'll be frank: I was hoping to duck G.I. Joe: Retaliation entirely. Yes, I'm Team Tatum. I'm with Sean on rooting for the Rock to save everything. And of course, I love me some Bruce Willis. But all I remember from the first movie was that (spoiler alert for G.I. Joe: Rise of the Cobra) Joseph Gordon Levitt becomes Cobra Commander, France gets devastated by Joe's in robo suits, and that I was equal parts bored and baffled watching it. So, when I attended an advance screening for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, my expectations were pretty low. Guys, I was in no way prepared for the insanity and awesomeness that played out before my very eyes over the next 110 minutes.

WARNING: spoilers below.

As someone who spent her childhood favoring Princess of Power She-Ra and the truly outrageous Jem over G.I. Joes, I worried my lack of familiarity with them could be a problem.



Things begin with a bang! Or to be more specific, an expertly executed G.I. Joe mission that introduces us to our heroes and director Jon M. Chu's high-energy action style. A quick but efficient intro tells me all I need to know to go on this ride. Game on.



Channing Tatum + The Rock = The perfect blend of machismo and self-mocking humor. If we could bottle the pair's dynamic chemistry, I'm confident we could power the entire country for at least five years.



To avoid spoilers, allow me to say just this: NOOOOOOOOOOO! I should have seen that coming. But still, guys, I'm hurting.



A jail so deep in the earth that it is in International Territory, plus a warden whose a douchebag in the vein of 1980s Gordon Gekko equals shit's about to get real. Let's do this!



To the filmmakers of G.I. Joe: Retaliation, that was all kinds of awesome. But I want to thank you in particular for the nonsensical but totally enjoyable shirt explosion Storm Shadow's ninja muscles cause. Everyone else: Byung-hun Lee deserves a Hollywood actioner of his own. Let's work on collectively willing that into existence.



Ray Stevenson as Firefly, you complete me. And let it be known, no one zings like Jonathan Price zings: "Firefly, it's good to know we're not running low on crazy."

I knew RZA was in this movie. I did not know—or even remotely suspect—he'd be playing a blind ninja master…with a possibly offensive accent.


The Joes need help, but who can they turn to? "There's a reason we call ourselves Joes." Here comes my man! Bruce Willis, your smirk is timeless. Let's forget A Good Day to Die Hard and never fight again, okay?



David Ehrlich is totally right. This should have been called G.I.Joe: Ninja Mountain.



In G.I.Joe: Ninja Mountain, Bruce Willis is the Martha Stewart of hiding massive arsenals.



The president of the United States has enraged all the world's leaders. Time to kick back to play Angry Birds. Jonathan Price, you are the best worst president ever.



Is this the world's first fist/gunfight? You know what, it doesn't matter. This will the fist/gunfight to which all others will be compared until the end of time.



So, the plot was all over this place, juggling a bunch of stories. But Chu's storytelling style—honed helming musicals and music-fueled docs—flows with swagger, and never lost me. The banter is as fast-paced and peppered with zingers and allusions as an episode of Archer. I want to go again to catch what I missed the first time around. In the end, I had an absolute blast against all my expectations. Bravo!



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