G.I. Joe: Retaliation

Movie review by
Jeffrey M. Anderson, Common Sense Media
G.I. Joe: Retaliation Movie Poster Image
Parents recommendPopular with kids
Teens may like violent sequel, but it's too much for kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2013
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 27 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Amid the nonstop action violence -- and the strong running theme of retaliation -- are some positive messages. The main one is teamwork, wherein many different people learn to work together, including one bad guy (Storm Shadow), who teams up with his enemies against a greater threat. The movie also has a message about the destructive horror of war, but that doesn't change the fact that revenge is a big motivation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Whether or not you view these characters as positive role models may depend on your opinion of the military, but the movie certainly presents them in a very positive light -- working together, respecting each other, showing bravery in the face of dismal odds, training to the point of excellence, etc. One character is shown to have grown up in a tough neighborhood and learned to better himself. On the downside, the female member of the team (who tries to show that women are just as powerful as men) is expected to use her sex appeal to get certain kinds of information from the bad guys. 


Constant strong (albeit fairly bloodless) action violence, the most terrible of which is probably the systematic destruction of London, which is dealt with lightly and seems to have no consequences. Also lots of fighting/hand-to-hand combat and punching (with some cuts and bruises), bloodless shooting of weapons, chase scenes, and explosions. There are also martial arts fighting sequences, with shurikens and sai swords.


The female member of the team dresses in a low-cut, tight red dress to get into an exclusive party. Later, she changes out of the dress while a male member of her team tries not to watch, but he accidentally catches a distorted reflection of her in a shiny surface. Her nearly naked bottom can be (sort of) glimpsed. She also dresses up in a revealing jogging suit (and bends over) to trick a man into giving up information. Also some mild, joking sexual innuendo between male friends.


Several uses of "hell," and a few uses of "ass" and "damn." One character uses two middle finger gestures. The main character says "mother-" but is interrupted before he can finish the second half of the word.


The film is based on a cartoon series that itself was based on a toy line (and the movie was actually co-produced by Hasbro, which makes those toys), so you could argue that the whole thing is an exercise in product placement. Other brands include Angry Birds and Under Armour.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that G.I. Joe: Retaliation is the sequel to the much-maligned but financially successful G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, though it has many different characters (and, frankly, is far more entertaining, in a guilty-pleasure way). Like the first movie, Retaliation was inspired by the '80s cartoon/toy line and has constant (albeit minimally bloody/gory) action violence. Kids will likely want to see it because they're the ones who play with the toys, but there's a ton of fighting, punching, chasing, and explosions. And the city of London is systematically destroyed in one sequence, with apparently no consequences. A sexy female member of the team twice dresses in revealing clothing to distract men and get necessary information. She also undresses while a member of her team tries not to look. Language is limited to "hell" and "ass," though there are also two middle-finger gestures and one interrupted "mother-." While revenge is a running theme/motive, there are also messages about teamwork and characters learning to better themselves. Ultimately, because this sequel takes itself less seriously than the first movie did, it has a bit less edge and is a better fit for teens.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byMarvelDAD June 7, 2021

This movie is OKAY

The violence in this is basically explosions. To childish for adults
Adult Written byHana Belay May 12, 2021
Kid, 11 years old June 7, 2021

Great movie

Great movie actually has not that much violence surprisingly, I did not allow my 11 yr old to watch the first one but this one seems alright.
Teen, 15 years old Written byExTBH July 16, 2020

What's the story?

Sent on a mission to Pakistan, the G.I. Joes -- led by Duke (Channing Tatum) -- find that they've been set up. After a brutal surprise attack, only Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Jaye (Adrianne Palicki), and Flint (D.J. Cotrona) survive. Looking to avenge their fallen comrades, the trio discovers that the evil plot goes all the way up to the president of the United States (Jonathan Pryce). It turns out that the remaining members of the evil organization Cobra are controlling the White House in an effort to take over the world with a terrifying new weapon. Joined by old friends, old enemies, and some new allies, it's now up to the ragtag team of Joe survivors to save the world.

Is it any good?

This much can be said: The story moves well and offers up the occasional surprise, and the film never takes itself too seriously. With director Jon M. Chu -- who's experienced in making musicals -- taking over the G.I. Joe franchise from the sloppy, noisy Stephen Sommers, G.I. JOE: RETALIATION has a great deal more grace and goodwill than its predecessor.

The plot and dialogue are absolutely ridiculous, but the movie seems aware of all that, and it inspires more giggles than groans. And fortunately, things move quickly enough that any questions of logic -- did London really just completely explode? -- never really come into play. It helps that most of the cast, notably Johnson, Bruce Willis, Pryce, and (in a smaller part) Tatum seem to be having a good time. Serious fans of G.I. Joe may be disappointed that this entry all but ignores many of the characters and events of the last film, but for plenty of others, that's a step in the right direction.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about G.I. Joe: Retaliation's violence. Do bloodless deaths have less impact than gorier ones?

  • It's also worth talking about the consumerism side of things. What do kids make of the fact that this is a movie based on a line of toys? Is the movie's goal to sell more toys? If not, what is it?

  • How does teamwork play into the movie? How well do these characters work together? How do their strengths and weaknesses mesh?

  • When Jaye uses her sex appeal to get information, what message does that send? How is using her body in this way different from using your body in a fight or a battle?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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