G.I. Joe: Retaliation

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Three men, flanked by two women and an Chinese man. The words GIJoe written diagonally below.

Theatrical release poster.
Directed by Jon M. Chu
Produced by
Written by
Based on G.I. Joe
by Hasbro
Music by Henry Jackman
Cinematography Stephen F. Windon
Edited by
Distributed by
Release dates
  • March 27, 2013 (2013-03-27) (France[4])
  • March 28, 2013 (2013-03-28) (USA)
Running time
110 minutes[5]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $130 million[6]
Box office $375.7 million[6]

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a 2013 American military science fiction action film directed by Jon M. Chu, based on Hasbro's G.I. Joe toy, comic and media franchises. Written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the film is a sequel to 2009's G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra while also serving as a soft reboot of the franchise.[7][8][9]

Retaliation features an ensemble cast, with Byung-hun Lee, Ray Park, Jonathan Pryce, Arnold Vosloo, and Channing Tatum reprising their roles from the first film. Luke Bracey takes over the role of Cobra Commander, replacing Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Dwayne Johnson, D. J. Cotrona, Adrianne Palicki, Ray Stevenson, and Bruce Willis round out the principal cast.

In the film, with Cobra operative Zartan still impersonating the President of the United States, the terrorist organization is able to frame the Joes as traitors, and have them nearly annihilated in an airstrike. Cobra Commander places the world leaders under Cobra's control, and gains access to their advanced warheads. Outnumbered and outgunned, the surviving Joes form a plan with the original G.I. Joe, General Joseph Colton, to overthrow the Cobra Commander and his allies.[10]

Originally slated for release in June 2012, the film was delayed in order to convert to 3D and boost interest in international markets. It was released in North America on March 28, 2013, and received generally negative reviews,[11] but was a box office success, grossing over $375 million worldwide.[6]


Duke (Channing Tatum) has become the leader of the G.I. Joe unit, which is framed for stealing nuclear warheads from Pakistan by Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), who is impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). The unit is subsequently decimated in a military air strike with Duke among the casualties. The only survivors are Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (D.J. Cotrona), and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki).

Meanwhile, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and Firefly (Ray Stevenson) rescue Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) from an underground maximum-security prison in Germany, leaving Destro behind. Storm Shadow is injured during the escape and retreats to a temple in the Himalayas to recover. Upon learning that he is alive, the Blind Master (RZA), leader of the Arashikage Clan, sends Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and his apprentice Jinx (Élodie Yung), Storm Shadow's cousin, to capture Storm Shadow so he can answer for the murder of his uncle, the Hard Master.

Roadblock, Flint, and Lady Jaye return to the United States where they set up a base of operations in a rundown gym. After Zartan announces that Cobra will replace the Joes as America's elite special forces unit, Lady Jaye deduces that someone is impersonating the President, and Roadblock leads them to General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis), who provides them with weapons, and helps them infiltrate a fundraising event that the President will be attending. Lady Jaye steals a sample of the President's DNA and confirms that he is Zartan. They escape after a confrontation with Firefly and Zandar (Matt Gerald), the head of the U.S. Secret Service's Presidential Detail and a member of Cobra.

Snake Eyes and Jinx locate and capture Storm Shadow after a battle with ninjas and take him to Japan, where Storm Shadow reveals that Zartan murdered the Hard Master, and that he joined Cobra to avenge his uncle. Storm Shadow then accompanies Snake Eyes and Jinx as they join the Joes' efforts to stop Cobra.

Zartan invites the world leaders to a summit at historic Fort Sumter, where he blackmails them into disabling their nuclear arsenals, and reveals that he has created Project Zeus: seven orbital kinetic bombardment weapons of mass destruction at his command. He destroys Central London to prove his superiority, and threatens to destroy other capitals if the countries don't submit to Cobra. Storm Shadow betrays Cobra Commander and kills Zartan, revealing Cobra's deception to the world leaders. While Snake Eyes, Jinx, and Flint fight Cobra's soldiers, Cobra Commander activates the remaining six weapons and instructs Firefly to protect the launch device. Firefly is killed in combat by Roadblock, who deactivates and destroys the orbital weapons. Meanwhile, Colton and Lady Jaye rescue the President.

Cobra Commander escapes during the battle and Storm Shadow disappears after avenging his uncle. The real President addresses the nation at a White House ceremony where Roadblock, Lady Jaye, Flint, Jinx, and Snake Eyes are commemorated as heroes. Colton presents Roadblock with an M1911 pistol that belonged to General George S. Patton, to use when he finally finds Cobra Commander and to avenge Duke. Roadblock proudly raises the weapon and fires a single shot in honor of his fallen comrades.


G.I. Joe


Other characters



After the financially successful release of The Rise of Cobra, Rob Moore, the studio vice chairman of Paramount Pictures, stated in 2009 that a sequel would be developed. In January 2011, Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, the writers of Zombieland, were hired to write the script for the sequel.[12][13] The movie was originally thought to be titled G.I. Joe: Cobra Strikes,[14] which was later denied by Reese.[15] Stephen Sommers was originally going to return as director of the sequel, but Paramount Pictures announced in February 2011 that Jon Chu would direct the sequel.[16][17] In July 2011, the sequel's name was revealed to be G.I. Joe: Retaliation.[18][19] Chu would later declare that Paramount wanted a reboot that also served as a sequel to The Rise of Cobra since "a lot of people saw the first movie so we don't want to alienate that and redo the whole thing."[9]


Director Jon M. Chu, Adrianne Palicki, D.J. Cotrona and Byung-Hun Lee.

In January 2011, it was confirmed that Byung-hun Lee would reprise his role as Storm Shadow in the sequel.[20][21] Channing Tatum and Ray Park also returned, as Duke and Snake Eyes, respectively. Rachel Nichols, the actress who played Scarlett in the first film, stated that most cast members would not be returning, except for the three aforementioned actors.[22] In March 2011, Sienna Miller stated that she would not be returning for a sequel.[23] Joseph Gordon-Levitt also confirmed that he would not be returning as Cobra Commander in the sequel.[24]

In June 2011, Dwayne Johnson was cast as Roadblock,[25] D.J. Cotrona and RZA were cast as Flint and Blind Master respectively,[26] while Élodie Yung was in talks for the role of Jinx.[27] In July 2011, Adrianne Palicki was confirmed for the lead female role of Lady Jaye,[28][29] and Ray Stevenson was confirmed to portray the villain Firefly.[30][31] Arnold Vosloo also confirmed that he would reprise his role of Zartan,[32] although in the final film Vosloo appears only in a couple of non-dialogue scenes, with Jonathan Pryce playing Zartan in most scenes. Joseph Mazzello was confirmed to play Mouse.[33] In August 2011, Walton Goggins was added as Warden Nigel James,[34] and it was confirmed that Bruce Willis was cast to star in the film as the original G.I. Joe.[35][36] The character of Joe Colton was a replacement for fan-favorite Joe character Sgt. Slaughter. Sgt. Slaughter stated that he "was originally supposed to be the part of Bruce Willis' [as] Sgt. Slaughter but because we had a conflict in toy companies, Hasbro and Mattel, I wasn't able to do it. It's one of those things, Rock (Dwayne Johnson) doesn't have a contract so he can do what he wants to do and he's been very successful".

In September, a casting call sheet leaked to the Internet revealed that Cobra Commander would appear in the sequel, though it was unknown who would play the character.[37] Chu said that fans would get a glimpse of Destro in the film, but Christopher Eccleston would not reprise his role in the sequel.[38] On May 1, 2012, it was confirmed by Jon Chu that G.I. Joe: Retaliation's Cobra Commander is Rex Lewis, the same character that Joseph Gordon-Levitt played in The Rise of Cobra.[39] Actor Robert Baker confirmed that he is the voice of Cobra Commander in the sequel.[40]


Principal photography began in August 2011 in Louisiana.[18][41] On November 22, 2011, a crew member died in an accident at a New Orleans warehouse that was serving as a soundstage for the production. The incident happened while crew members were changing out a set.[42] The battle on the Himalayas was shot in a New Orleans warehouse previously used to build NASA rockets, that had been fitted with a green screen wall at a very steep angle with a lot of rigging above to swing the stunt people through.[43]

Fort Pike in Louisiana stands in for Fort Sumter in South Carolina as the site of the climactic summit meeting of the leaders of nuclear-armed countries.

Visual effects

Retaliation had 700 visual effects shots,[44] which were mostly handled by three effects companies.[43] Visual effects supervisor Zachary Kinnery declared that while the visuals aimed for the "big and bold" typical of the franchise, Retaliation would be the first to attempt "a bit more of that gritty realism."[45] The major part of the effects was given to Digital Domain, which for 227 effects created digital vehicles and aircraft that had to "look fantastic but which are also plausible", given they had to match practical models, the Zeus satellite and a sequence where Zartan shows his nanomite-related disguise to the president - done with the same head replacement software developed for The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Tron: Legacy. Industrial Light & Magic made the London destruction, a digital White House, and the mountain sword fight, which had computer-generated backgrounds and digital augmentation of the stunt people's performance. Method Studios was responsible for the desert attack, Firefly's explosive bugs, and the malfunction on the underground prison.[43][44][46] Saints LA handled minor effects such as compositing and news graphics.[47]


The film's score was composed by Henry Jackman.


Previously slated for release on June 29, 2012,[48][49] Paramount announced in May 2012 that they were delaying the film's release until March 29, 2013 (but was later moved to March 28, 2013), in order to convert the movie to 3D and boost interest in international markets.[50][51]

The delay "gobsmacked" the film industry, according to Deadline.com, because Paramount had already implemented a substantial advertising campaign beginning with a Super Bowl commercial, because "warehouses full of" toys were waiting for the film's launch, and because it was one of only three Paramount-produced films scheduled for Summer 2012 (along with The Dictator and Katy Perry: Part of Me). The studio also wanted to avoid competing with Tatum's Magic Mike, also scheduled for June 29, Deadline reported.[52]

Ban in Pakistan

The film was banned by the Central Board of Film Censors of Pakistan due to initial scenes at the beginning of the movie which depict the country negatively, according to film censor board officials. A Karachi-based cinema posted on its Facebook page that the film would not be screened due to restrictions by the censor board. The censorship was due to the film's depiction of Pakistan as an unstable state and the fictional portrayal of a "foreign invasion of Pakistan’s nuclear installations", which caught the ire of film censor authorities. Consequently, restrictions were imposed on screening the movie countrywide.[53][54][55][56] According to an official at the censor board, the film portrayed Pakistan negatively not only on the issue of the War on Terror but also on the international standing of the country: "There is a scene which shows the assassination of the Pakistani president and the imposition of martial law, which is not a fair representation of the country."[57] Another cinema official explained "There were obviously several objectionable things which would never have passed the censors, but these things are also relevant to the content of the film."[57]

Image of Roadblock from the G.I. Joe: Retaliation series of action figures.


On December 12, 2011, the premiere trailer for the film was released on YouTube exclusively from Machinima.com. The trailer itself features a remix of the White Stripes' song "Seven Nation Army" by The Glitch Mob.[2] Following the release of the trailer, Interview magazine featured G.I. Joe: Retaliation in "Thursday video Face-Off" against the indie film Alter Egos on January 12, 2012.[58] A shorter teaser trailer for the film aired during Super Bowl XLVI, containing music by Jay-Z.[59][60] A Japanese trailer focusing on actor Byung-hun Lee was released in April 2012. The second full trailer made its debut on April 24, 2012,[61] containing a viral marketing initiative inviting viewers to interact with a website and Facebook application for the film.[62][63] On December 13, 2012, a third trailer was released featuring more footage of London's destruction.[64] In January 2013, a four-minute clip of the film featuring a ninja battle between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow was attached with IMAX screenings of Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.[65] A soundtrack of the score by composer Henry Jackman was released in April 2013.

A toyline for the film was confirmed by Hasbro in February 2012.[66] Despite the movie's release being moved from June 2012 to March 2013, the initial assortments of figures, vehicles, and role-play items were shipped to retailers, and appeared on store shelves in May 2012. A Variety article was published stating that the already released figures had been pulled from the shelves and recalled by Hasbro,[67] although the company's official statement indicated that existing product would be sold through. New product shipments were halted by Hasbro, but existing Retaliation figures were available in Target, Wal-Mart, and Toys R Us as late as December 2012.[68] The toyline was re-released in the United States in February 2013.[69] A four-part limited series comic book titled G.I. Joe: Retaliation Movie Prequel was published by IDW Publishing from February 2012 to April 2012. Written by John Barber, it acted as a prequel to the 2013 movie.

Home media

G.I. Joe: Retaliation was released on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D on July 30, 2013.[70] A Blu-ray "Extended Action Cut" added 12 minutes of footage and uncensored violence was also available, with the United States version being a Best Buy exclusive.[71]

The film topped No. 1 on both the Blu-ray and DVD sales charts with at least 54% of both Blu-ray and DVD units sold.[72] The film also topped weekend rentals as well.[73]


Critical response

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 28% approval rating with an average rating of 4.5/10 based on 161 reviews. The website's consensus reads, "Though arguably superior to its predecessor, G.I. Joe: Retaliation is overwhelmed by its nonstop action and too nonsensical and vapid to leave a lasting impression."[11] At Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 41%, indicating "mixed or average reviews", based on 31 critics, which was higher than the first film's 32% average score.[74]

Alan Scherstuhl of The Village Voice wrote in a positive review that "this [movie] pushes right past competent into mostly legitimately enjoyable" but added that "the movie is still dumb as catbutt. It's an honest and accomplished dumbness, however, where the stupidest stuff seems to be there because the movie would be less fun without it."[75] The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy was critical about the film's use of 3D and accurate reflection of the franchise's comic book and cartoon origins, but predicted it would still earn better than its predecessor, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.[76] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a grade of "B-", calling it "well-executed technocratic action fluff" and commented: "In its dehumanized and trivial way, it's a triumph of razor-sharp, hyper-violent style over formulaic substance ... Hollywood has now evolved to the point that it can deliver these kinds of thrills with maximum brute force and keep the impact so light that the result can still be regarded as a 'harmless' diversion for 14-year-olds."[77] Glen Heath Jr. of Slant Magazine gave it two out of four stars, criticizing the film's "cut-happy style" and plot, but lauding the action sequences and Chu's direction as "poetry in high-speed motion."[78] Writing for Indiewire's The Playlist Blog, Todd Gilchrist gave the film a "B-" and wrote: "As one might expect, there are more than a handful of loose ends once justice has been served, but there’s something to be said for a film which aims to please in a sincere and straightforward way, without attempting to be the biggest ever. 'Retaliation' is no masterpiece, but it’s a movie whose fun doesn’t feel like a four-letter word"[79]

In a negative review, Betsey Sharkey of the Los Angeles Times panned the "overwhelmingly complicated, globe-hopping, enemies within, enemies without story line" and 3D but noted that "the humor, when it works, offers 'Retaliation' some redemption." She ended with: "It's convoluted. Frankly no one should have to think that hard to keep up with the Joes."[80] Another negative review came from Variety Magazine's Justin Chang, who ridiculed the movie's large-scale destruction of foreign cities, writing: "Audiences who thrilled to the sight of Paris under biochemical attack in Cobra will be pleased to watch London endure an even more horrific fate here, although the sequence is tossed off in quick, almost ho-hum fashion, with no time to dwell on anything so exquisitely crass as the spectacle of the Eiffel Tower collapsing." He summarized the movie as "a more straight-faced brand of idiocy than its cheerfully dumb 2009 predecessor."[81]

PopMatters journalist J.C. Maçek III wrote "For fans who bought the toys, watched the cartoon and read the comics during the ‘80s and now have like-aged children of their own (all of which I did and do), might I suggest proceeding to watch this fun film with your kids, but compromise so that you can leave the commentary track on. The film will remain a treat for the eyes, but you can more easily gloss over those parts that will make you apologize to your brain."[82]

Writing for Empire magazine, Olly Richards gave the movie 2 stars out of 5 and compared it unfavorably with its predecessor, writing: "The first film you could at least laugh at. This takes all its silly ingredients and smushes them down flat. 'Retaliation' over-promises and under-delivers."[83] Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun Times gave the movie 1.5 stars out of a possible four, branding it a "ridiculous and overblown debacle" that contained "nothing but well-packaged garbage" and further adding: "To say 'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' is a video game for the big screen is to insult a number of video games that are far more creative, challenging and better-looking."[84]

Despite the negative critical response, audiences responded favorably. CinemaScore polls found that audiences gave the film an average grade of A-minus.[85]

Box office

G.I. Joe: Retaliation grossed $122,523,060 in North America and $253,217,645 internationally for a worldwide total of $375,740,705.[6] Overall, according to Box Office Mojo it is the 25th highest-grossing film of 2013 in North America,[86] the 18th highest-grossing film worldwide that year,[87] the highest-grossing film in the G.I. Joe film series, and the fifth highest-grossing Hasbro film.

In North America, the film grossed $10.5 million on its opening day at the top of the box office.[88] The film retained the No. 1 spot over the three-day weekend and grossed $40.5 million, which is the third-highest Easter debut ever behind Furious 7 and Clash of the Titans. However, this was lower than its predecessor's opening weekend of $54.7 million.[89] The international response was even more positive, with $80.3 million across the weekend.[90]


On April 1, 2013, reports surfaced that there will be a third G.I. Joe film,[91] and it will likely be in 3D.[92][93] The studio announced that Chu will return to direct the third film.[94] While at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, Chu talked about bringing Scarlett back in the next film.[95] The writers of the second film are also thinking about bringing back the Baroness in the sequel.[96] Johnson is interested in returning as Roadblock for the sequel,[97] and Park has talked about a possible return as Snake Eyes and also including his pet wolf Timber.[98] Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has stated he is open to doing a G.I. Joe/Transformers crossover,[99] which Chu stated that he would be interested in directing.[100] Bonaventura told Beijing News that he hoped that Johnson and Willis would return, the script is still in the writing stage, and that they are considering adding a third important role.[101] On September 10, 2013, Chu was confirmed to direct the film, along with writer Evan Daugherty (Snow White and the Huntsman, Divergent, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) to pen the film's script.[102] On December 5, 2013, Daugherty talked about writing the film's script and his feelings about Duke being killed,[103] but Chu told MTV that Tatum may return as Duke in the sequel.[104] On April 2, 2014, in an interview with Collider, Johnson believes that Chu may not return to direct, due to working on the live action Jem film, but they may find another director for the film.[105] It was revealed that the third film will have a 2016 release date.[106] On June 23, 2014, di Bonaventura told Collider in an interview that they're meeting with new directors and filming may start in early 2015.[107] On July 1, 2014, Variety reported that Jonathan Lemkin will write the script for the film and will focus on Roadblock with Johnson returning.[108] On February 5, 2015, Film Divider reported that the twins Tomax and Xamot and Matt Trakker from the TV series M.A.S.K. will be appearing.[109] On April 2, 2015, the studio hired Aaron Berg to write the film, and D. J. Caruso to direct the film.[110][111] On November 23, 2015, Deadline reported that Akiva Goldsman will lead a writers room for the next G.I. Joe film.[112] In September 2016, Byung-Hun Lee told LRM Review that the studio doing the third film is waiting on the actors to return, including Johnson.[113]


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