Drew Zahn is a WND news editor who cut his journalist teeth as a member of the award-winning staff of Leadership, Christianity Today's professional journal for church leaders. A former pastor, he is the editor of seven books, including Movie-Based Illustrations for Preaching & Teaching, which sparked his ongoing love affair with film and his weekly WND column, "Popcorn and a (world)view."More ↓Less ↑
A child of the ’80s, I grew up watching any and every action cartoon I could, from “He-Man” to “Transformers” to, of course, “G.I. Joe.”
And thanks to the public service announcements at the end of every “G.I. Joe” episode, I learned to test a door before opening it if my house is on fire, not to pet strange dogs and never to play around downed power lines.
As the Joes explained every episode, “Now you know, and knowing is half the battle.”
The makers of the original cartoons had hoped kids would walk away from “G.I. Joe” having learned something – and if we’re smart, we should learn something from the new Joe film in theaters, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation”: namely, that the quickest path to subjugation is to strip the good guys of their guns.
The film itself is a fairly formulaic action flick with stylized gunfights, intricately choreographed ninja battles and lots and lots of explosions. There’s the designated “hot chick” for eye candy, the bromance and the villains with various, sundry scars. Sadly, there’s no witty sidekick.
Unfortunately, there’s also very little originality and not much thought put into developing a script, meaning any magic that “G.I. Joe” had for this child of the ’80s was pretty much put to rest with “Retaliation.” The previous attempt at making a live-action Joe movie in 2009 (“G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra”) was widely panned as a stinker, and “Retaliation” is only marginally better.
Yes, Dwayne Johnson is his charismatic self as the character Roadblock, and every Joe fan loves to see the iconic character Snake Eyes, but there’s something cynical about a movie industry that permits films like this to be made – all big-budget explosions and marketing gimmicks with no art, no sense of movie magic, no attempt to tell a story.
Such blockbuster fluff and cotton candy can hardly be expected to have much spiritual or cultural significance, but there is a climactic scene that illustrates the folly of gun-control legislation in the U.S.
Part of the film’s plot is a plan by the villains to eliminate all the world’s nuclear weapons. While many folks would consider this a noble, rather than villainous, enterprise – in fact, total nuclear disarmament is a common goal among leftists – “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” reveals the villains of “Cobra” still have a weapon of mass destruction up their sleeve. When all the world’s governments are nuke-free, there will be no deterrent left to stop Cobra from demanding the world submit or die at the hands of their vastly superior weaponry.
The analogy, though missed by many in Hollywood, D.C. and the media, is abundantly clear to those of us in the real world: If you take guns away from the good guys, the bad guys will still have them. And without anyone armed enough to stop them, villains can force the masses to – again – submit or die.
Particularly in the U.S., where there are hundreds of thousands of guns in circulation and a border porous enough to allow many more in, restricting responsible American citizens (i.e., “the good guys”) to merely token gun ownership, while drug lords, burglars, rapists, mass murderers and terrorists (i.e., “the bad guys”) are freely armed to the teeth is not so very different from the dilemma the world faces in “Retaliation” when its nukes are gone and Cobra still has the ability to destroy nations.
Granted, we might all love a utopian world where there are no nukes, no wars, no guns. But until Christ returns and makes the impossible possible, the “bad guys” will have their guns, so the “good guys” need them too.
The writers of the 2nd Amendment knew this just as well as the average “Joe.” And now you know. And knowing is half the battle.
“G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” rated PG-13, contains a dozen minor obscenities and no profanities.
The film’s sexuality includes a shirtless man, pair of innuendo-laden jokes and three scenes where the designated “hottie” appears in skimpy clothing. In one scene, she uses a revealing jogging outfit to attract a target’s attention; in another she wears a revealing evening gown to attract a whole party’s attention; in the third, she changes clothes and is seen in a reflection wearing lingerie. In all three scenes the camera dwells on her. There is no significant romantic or sexual storyline, however.
The film is loaded with violence. Overflowing with violence. Gunfights, knife-fights, fistfights, explosions, vehicular warfare, stylized and glamorized. Though characters appear bloodied, there is no focus on gore, bloodshed or the mangling and breaking of bodies. Like the ’80s animated show, it’s all fairly cartoonish.
Outside of a prayer scene, the film has little significant religious content, with throwaway phrases like, “Welcome to hell” and “amen” about the sum of it. There is a scene with an oriental witch doctor of sorts, but her healing powers are part technological and part natural remedies without any occult symbolism or chanting or whatnot. The most significant religious moment is a “prayer” among the Joes before embarking on a mission, quoting rapper Jay-Z’s song, “Don’t Let Me Die”: “Whatever [guillotine or deity] guides my life, dear Lord, don’t let me die tonight. But if I shall before I wake, I’d accept my fate.”