A sequel to 2009's financially sound (over $300 million worldwide) but critically mauled The Rise Of Cobra, Retaliation sees director Jon M Chu (Step Up 2 The Streets, Justin Bieber's Never Say Never) take the series in a slightly more down-and-dirty, but no more realistic direction.
The Joes are sent to capture and dismantle some nuclear bombs, but instead of being slapped on the back for a job well done, they get double crossed and all but five of the Joes are killed. With the President actually being a bad-guy capable of morphing to look like anyone (in a plot point stolen straight from X-Men 2), and the rest of the bad guys breaking into a prison to release their frozen leader (which is reminiscent of Demolition Man), Retaliation doesn't seem to have a single original thought in its head. Hot chick in a red dress breaking into a landmark building like in Mission: Impossible 3? Check. Bullets that can curve around walls and into bad guys' heads like we saw in Wanted? Check. Most of the fun is listing all of the scenes it's ripping off from other, better movies.
The rest of the fun is watching human shit-brickhouse The Rock pretend to be in any kind of physical threat when surrounded by bad guys about one third of his size, or the too-blatant-to-be-unintentional homoerotic dialogue ("They pounded my ass so much that I grew to like it, but then I grew eight inches and started pounding theirs!").
While it's arguably a better movie overall than The Rise Of The Cobra, there is actually less here to enjoy. The action sequences here are tired, confusingly choreographed and all too few, so it's difficult to see where its $185 million budget went, as it doesn't have anything close to the original's chaotic destruction of Paris scene or its submarine base climax. The Rock continues to be awesome, but Willis phones it in like a collect call, and other leads like D.J. Catrona or Elodie Yung are sometimes nice to look at, but entirely vacant.
Actually, that sums up Retaliation pretty succinctly; sometimes nice to look at, but entirely vacant.