G.I. Joe: Retaliation

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Short takes

Not suitable under 13; parental guidance to 14 (violence; disturbing scenes; sexual references)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for G.I. Joe: Retaliation
  • a review of G.I. Joe: Retaliation completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 8 April 2013.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 13 Not suitable due to violence, disturbing scenes and sexual references.
Children aged 13–14 Parental guidance recommended due to violence, disturbing scenes and sexual references.
Children aged 15 and over Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Action violence
Length: 110 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

The President of the U.S.A. (Jonathan Pryce) sends the G.I. Joe team lead by Duke (Channing Tatum) on a stealth mission to retrieve a number of nuclear warheads from political unstable Pakistan. However, the real President of the U.S.A. is replaced by the evil Zartan (Arnold Vosloo), a member of the sinister Cobra Organisation. In the guise of the President, Zartan orders the destruction of the entire G.I. Joe team upon completion of their mission. Only three team members survive the devastating attack, Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) and Flint (D.J. Cotrona), who set out to avenge the death of their colleagues.

After making their way home, Roadblock, Jaye and Flint discover that the President is not who he appears to be, and that their old enemies Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey), Zartan and Storm Shadow (Byung-Hum Lee) are the real masterminds behind the death of their brothers. The Joes also learn that Cobra Commander wants to gain control of the world and has a sinister master plan in action involving orbiting satellite weapons of mass destruction.

Enlisting the aid of retired General Joe Coltan (Bruce Willis) and some old friends, Roadblock and his small band of G.I. Joes mount an all out assault to stop Cobra Commander and save the world.        



Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Criminal organisations; revenge, weapons of mass destruction; nuclear war

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

The film contains intense sequences of action violence. While the depiction of blood and gore is kept to a minimum, the film has a very high body count with one scene depicting nuclear-like devastation and destruction of a major city. Examples include:

  • At the start of the film we see a G.I. Joe force attack a military instillation. They fire automatic weapons as they are lowered by ropes from a helicopter and dozens of enemy soldiers lie dead on the ground. At other times during the scene we see enemy soldiers being shot and struck by bullets and on one occasion we see a soldier shot point-blank; minimum blood and gore is depicted.  There are also a number of close-up fistfights in which soldiers are punched and kicked in the head, face and body multiple times, and in some instances we see enemy soldiers thrown out of windows and over balcony railings to fall to their deaths.
  • During one scene depicting battle violence several helicopter gunships fire upon a group of G.I. Joe team members. Missiles are fired from helicopters, blowing up trucks and a man is engulfed in an explosion. G. I’s are thrown through the air and afterwards numerous dead bodies are scattered over the ground. The three survivors have cuts, grazes and bruises. 
  • Throughout the film there is stylised action violence, bordering on the supernatural, with ninja-style soldiers using swords, knives and throwing stars of various types to slice, stab, slash and impale.
  • During a stylised fight between two women the younger woman kicks the older woman in the head, knocking her unconscious.
  • Tiny robot insects with glowing abdomens explode, killing a number of men who are thrown through the air. In one scene at the end of the film, an insect held by a man explodes and he is engulfed in a ball of flames and vaporised.
  • In one of the  more brutal fights, two large muscular men exchange punches to the face and body. One of the men attacks the other with a metal pipe hitting him in the stomach. A car deliberately crashes into one of the men who is thrown over the bonnet.
  • A weapon fired from space crashes into the city of London, resulting in a giant explosion that levels the entire city. Large sections of earth are lifted up into the air as if a giant earthquake had struck.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, children in this age group are likely to be disturbed by the scary characters, scenes of destruction, explosions and noise throughout this film and particularly by the following scenes:

  • In one scene we see a man take a long knife and cut his own face from top to bottom; we see the actual cut being made. The man’s face then immediately transforms taking on a black metal appearance with the cut healing itself and the man’s face returning to normal as though the cut was never made. 
  • A man removes his oxygen mask to reveal a grossly disfigured head and face. He has a badly scarred face and where his ears should be.
  • One of the film’s main characters, Snake Eyes, is engulfed in flames when a gas tank explodes. Snake Eyes survives but his back is badly burned and we see black smouldering flesh.
  • A sword thrown at a man impales him in the chest and he falls backwards dead. His face transforms, taking on a black metallic appearance and changing shape.  

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by much of this movie and particularly the above-mentioned scary and disturbing scenes.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Children in this age group are also likely to be disturbed by many scenes in this film.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Younger children in this age group may be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes.

Product placement

The film is based upon G.I. Joe comics, action figures and other products which are marketed to children.

Sexual references

The film contains an occasional low-level sexual references and connotation. Examples include:

  • We see a man playing with two young girls who run screaming from the room. A second man, the father of the two young girls, says, “that’s not the first time you’ve sent a girl running from the room screaming”. The first man replies “That not the first time I’ve sent two girls running from the room screaming”.
  • A man says to another, “that’s on the rise, like your panties”, to which the first man responds “You love my panties”.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some partial nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Women wear low-cut and revealing clothing, sometimes deliberately to attract men. For example, a woman dressed in shorts bends over in front of a man and we see him staring at her buttocks. 
  • In one scene a man unzips a woman’s dress; we see a back view of her bare back and the top of her buttocks, and her bra and panties; the man views her reflection in a TV screen.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • A man has a gas mask forced on his face to render him unconscious.
  • A man is injected in the leg with a drug and is told the drug will shortly make him unconscious and that he will not remember anything when he wakes up.
  • We hear that three men imprisoned in water filled glass tube are deliberately given a drug that keeps them in an induced REM state of sleep.   

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • The film’s main character says,  “motherf...” with the second half of the expression cut off before he can utter it.
  • “What the hell", "Jesus", "shut up", "scratch my arse", "kick that arse".


In a nutshell

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is an action adventure targeting adolescent males and those who are fans of the cartoon series. It is a sequel to the first G.I. Joe film, The Rise of Cobra, picking up where the first film ends. Younger boys may be attracted to the film because G.I. Joe comics, action figures and associated merchandise are marketed to children, but the film is not suitable for them. It features constant violence and disturbing characters and scenes which are likely to scare under 13s and many younger teens. 

The main messages from this movie are that:

  • Individuals that work together as a team can overcome insurmountable odds.
  • There are no winners in nuclear war - everybody loses.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Teamwork
  • Bravery and self sacrifice
  • Friendship and respect.

Parents may wish to discuss the mixed messages depicted in this film. For example, although Jaye presents herself as being equal to men and goes out of her way to prove it, she also uses her sexuality to seduce a man into giving her information.