Following up the 2009's forgettable "G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra" isn't exactly a difficult task -- but this weekend's sequel definitely delivers the goods.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" features boys and their lethal toys, The Rock being a badass, some pleasing eye candy and the kid from "Jurassic Park" ... all grown up. What's not to like?
The new movie is a quasi-sequel to the 2009 film, with only Channing Tatum, Ray Park, Lee Byung-hun and Jonathan Pryce returning for another go-around.
Joining the Joes this time are Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Roadblock, Adrianne Palicki as Lady Jaye and D.J. Cotrona as Flint, who try to clear their names after being framed by one of the Cobra Commander's henchmen (who is impersonating the President).
While the newcomers are serviceable additions to the cast and Bruce Willis shows up in a minor role, it's Johnson who really shines.
The charismatic and unbelievably likable wrestler-turned-actor more than carries the film, which should solidify his place as a bankable movie star.
But, like most blockbusters, the movie isn't perfect.
"Retaliation" feels a bit disjointed at the beginning, with scenes jumping around the world at warp speed for the first half of its two-hour running time.
A secondary storyline between Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow is mostly unnecessary as well ... but eventually pays off in a big way.
About an hour into the movie, there's a sky-high, zip-line sequence that the rest of the movie never comes close to topping. It's a really impressive set piece that's exhilarating to watch, packed with some killer fight choreography and special effects.
If the rest of the flick had the same level of flair, this would be a glowing review ... instead of just a generally favorable one.
All that being said, "Retaliation" is the best movie based off a Hasbro property yet.
It's far superior to "Rise of the Cobra" and "Battleship," isn't anywhere near as annoying as the "Transformers" franchise and is a fun ride. Just don't expect "Saving Private Ryan" ... it's still based on a line of toys.
The ending leaves room for another sequel, so if this does well (and it likely will) you can probably expect #3 Summer 2015.
"G.I. Joe: Retaliation" opens today.