'G.I. Joe: Retaliation' One Big Scene: Anti-Gravity Ninja Fight on the Side of a Snowy Mountain!
One Big Scene is a weekly column dedicated to spectacular visual sequences we’re recommending you see in the theater. If you have ones you’d like us to write about, let us know in the comments section.
After a campy and semi-cartoonish attempt at bringing Hasbro’s G.I. Joe toy line to the big screen, Hollywood gets serious with a franchise do-over that invites proven superstars Bruce Willis and Dwayne Johnson to the team … stepping up the G.I. Joe game with an explosive thriller that’s sure to please all generations of action-movie fans.
Jon M. Chu directs G.I. Joe: Retaliation, a sequel that picks up a few years after the events of the original film and investigates the ramifications of Cobra taking control of the White House (a dire turn of events that occurred in the closing moments of the last Joe movie). Let’s just say things don’t go very well for the G.I. Joe soldiers.
But is G.I. Joe: Retaliation good for audience members? The nation’s top critics weigh in.
What Critics are Saying:
“A more sure-footed shoot-'em-up that finds some heart, wit and perhaps enough momentum to spawn a formidable action franchise.”
- Scott Bowles, USA Today
“It's well-executed technocratic action fluff. But it did leave me buzzed rather than drained.”
- Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation has enough hoo-ah to bring a satisfying blast of blockbustery summer to dreary March.”
- Kyle Smith, New York Post
I almost went with the air strike that eliminates countless Joe troops, a double-cross that sends Roadblock (Johnson), Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and a small group of beaten-up Joes on a vengeance mission. I also considered the detonation of London, which can be seen in most Retaliation trailers and looks amazing … but happens to quickly to qualify for this weekly column.
No, the One Big Scene in Chu’s sequel has to be the ninja fight on the side of a snowy mountain between Snake Eyes (Ray Park), Jinx (Elodie Yung) and a dozen red-clad warriors all swinging from cables and brandishing razor-sharp samurai swords.
“It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, go and take two weeks to go and shoot that,” Chu told me in an exclusive interview discussing this scene. “It was actually the combination of a lot of different teams working on it over [several] months. We actually shot it in the mountains of Vancouver, with zip lines and stunt men in ninja outfits dangling 1,000 feet in the air. They were flying across, and freezing cold! And then we did additional stunt work on a set with green screen and props, and we’d have them literally swinging. It was a long, long process.”
The sequence starts with Snake Eyes battling his nemesis, Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee), in the isolated lair of a villainous healer. Their fight eventually moves outside, where Shadow is detained … but getting his limp body down from the mountain proves far more difficult than Snake probably assumed.
The ninja mountain sequence, which I like to call “Cirque Du Sword Fighting,” is Chu’s answer to the first movie’s extended chase to the Eiffel Tower, where Channing Tatum and Marlon Wayans defied gravity as they bobbed and weaved around Parisian traffic and missiles fired by Cobra forces. It’s as graceful as a ballet, yet as lethal as an MMA bout. It’s the one sequence this week that absolutely needs to be seen on the big screen, and in 3D, to boot.
We have a quick tease. See the rest in theaters this weekend!
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Sean O'ConnellFandango Bloggers
Sean is a film reviewer for The Washington Post and daily contributor to Fandango.