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G.I. Joe: Retaliation by Henry Jackman (Review)

posted Mar 21, 2013, 6:38 PM by Kaya Savas

Last year G.I. Joe: Retaliation was pushed off the schedule to give time for a 3D conversion, and to reshoot some scenes after Channing Tatum became super popular. This movie and the Stephen Sommers original are completely throwaway action movies. So, with that in mind let’s just accept these movies for what they are and skip to the score. Henry Jackman is extremely exciting these days and he’s delivered some fun and even great scores recently. From Puss In Boots, Winnie The Pooh, Man On A Ledge, Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, Wreck-It Ralph and X-Men: First Class he’s shown versatility and an established voice. I know he is capable of great things and big emotions, but I also know he can do plain fun as well. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is exactly that. This is a “balls to the wall” action score that is loud and in your face. It has wonderful rousing cues, loud electronics and synth, pulsating strings and an energy that will give your speakers a workout. 

The way the score plays out is very much like a driver testing out a new car. It takes a while to get the feel of it, but once you do then you aren’t afraid of flooring it. Henry Jackman is jumping into a franchise that has one movie in the can, and like any new car he’s going to drive it his way. Don’t expect any of Silvestri’s existing material as Jackman adds his own voice to the world. The first few tracks feel off-putting but once it gets its footing (and you’ll feel it) this score is damn fun. Jackman adds an Asian twist in track 9 that’s very welcome and melodically is a blast. The second half of the score really lets loose, and Jackman puts on display his incredible knack for action structuring. There is not an ounce of emotional resonance though, which is what sets certain action scores apart. Something like Transformers 1 is proof of a score that is huge action yet can be emotionally rousing. While this score has that energy and structure, I never had that spine tingle that a great action score will give you. Again, I know Jackman is capable of doing that as was the case with X-Men: First Class. However here we get sort of a more grand scale version of a score to a Saturday morning cartoon, and that’s meant as a positive remark since that’s what the movie calls for.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is a big loud movie with the score to match. Some people may be put off by the rock aesthetic Henry Jackman decided to go with, but in retrospect he completely owned it and it made the score feel like a cohesive work. The structure is topnotch and the execution is superb once you get past the first few tracks. It will really come down to how much you’ll allow yourself to enjoy it, if you do there’s much to enjoy.