It’s no secret that I was a big fan of G.I. Joe Retaliation. The film, which was saddled with the continuity left at the end of The Rise of Cobra, took the franchise and righted its course in a way that fans had only dreamed of. In many ways, it was what the first Joe film should have been and wasn’t. Yet, as good of a film as it was I always felt that there was something missing from it. After seeing the film for the first time I remember commenting to friends that I just wish that there was about 15 minutes more to smooth out some of the rough cuts in the film and fill in a few narrative gaps. Flash forward four months later and G.I. Joe Retaliation dropped on DVD with the usual bevy of store exclusives in terms of packaging and bonus discs. Yet one edition stood out from the rest of the pack in my eyes as offering real exclusive content as opposed to fancy packaging. That’s right kids—I’m talking about the G.I. Joe Retaliation Extended Action Cut offered exclusively through Best Buy.
First off, let me say this—if you’re buying the film on Blu-Ray, this is the way to go. The EAC (because I’m not typing out “Extended Action Cut” fifty more times in this review) has ALL of the same features as the regular Blu-Ray releases. That’s right—you get the multi-part behind-the-scenes documentaries that are all lumped under “G.I. Joe: Declassified” as well as the three deleted scenes. You also get the commentary track and the same interactive menus. However, what makes the film really shine is the re-editing of the film to include new footage and, in some cases, alternate takes to add to the story. Don’t let the name fool you—it’s not just ALL action footage as there is some great character development that was missing from the original release.
If there were two characters that I felt were shorted in the theatrical cut it was Flint and Jinx. Both were there and were showcased nicely but I always felt that the film just scratched the surface of their potential contributions to the story. Thankfully, it looks like director Jon M. Chu had more depth planned for them as this version showcases. The film opens with an extended training sequence for Jinx set in the rooftop HQ of the Arashikage clan in Tokyo and showcases her martial arts prowess. However, as good as she is there is one final test that she must pass and it involves preventing Snake Eyes from plucking a single hair from her head—while blindfolded! The sequence is exciting and impressive and really gives Snake Eyes something that he needed in the film—a companion during his solo sequences. Much like the inclusion of Agent Helix as a partner for the Silent Master in the IDW comic series, Jinx adds more depth to many of Snake Eyes’ sequences as we watch her prove herself to him over the course of the entire film.
Flint is the other character whose role is greatly enhanced in the film. Actor DJ Cotrona did a solid job of playing the brash side of the character but he was used sparingly in the film. Now, the consequences of Flint’s flag-raising incident from the film’s opening are explored which sets the stage for his interactions with Roadblock throughout the rest of the film. Many of these scenes were hinted at in the original trailers for the film’s initial June release date but were strangely absent from the final release. Now Flint, just like Jinx, is seen as a soldier who goes from being a cocky rogue to a solid team player. One sequence in particular where the actor truly shines is in his confrontation with Roadblock following his attempt on Zartan’s life. The tension is much higher now and Roadblock backs off when he realizes that Flint is using his own words against him—and he’s right.
Speaking of which, one of my favorite changes in the entire film involves Roadblock’s seemingly reckless attempt on Zartan’s life following the gala sequence. In the theatrical version, this was a planned attempt all along but now it’s shown that Roadblock had misled his teammates and that this was his intention all along. He was acting on his own—and wasn’t going to further implicate his teammates in removing the threat. It leads to a great moment where Flint confronts him about the nature of being a Joe and being part of a team.
As for the rest of the additional footage—don’t look for big long sequences of new material. Rather, be prepared for it to be sprinkled throughout the entire film in the form of a shot here or an alternate take there. The result is a film that jumps less from action sequence to action sequence but rather flows to tell a complete story. I’ll even go so far as to say that this cut of the film fixes about 95% of the minor issues I had with the original release. If you’re still on the fence, here’s a full breakdown of all of the changes courtesy of Movie-Censorship.com.
I’m not a shill and I’m not getting paid by Best Buy to write this. I’m just a Joe fan who ran out yesterday over his lunch break in the rain to snag a copy of the film on DVD and then had to wait until he got home that night to watch it. . I have the feeling that this was the version of the film that the director wanted to release but that it was cut down a bit to keep the film more firmly in the PG territory. However, I can say this with 100% certainty—if you’re only planning on buying ONE version of G.I. Joe Retaliation, Best Buy’s Extended Action Cut is the way to go. At most stores it’s currently on sale through Saturday night for around $20 which is a bargain when you look at the extra hour of special features that are included on the EAC it’s a complete steal.
Seriously—quit lolly-gagging and run, do not walk, to your nearest Best Buy and snag this today. You won’t regret it.