Watching G.I. Joe: Retaliation, it's depressing to see how far we've come. Once upon a time, visual effects of this standard would have been an unreachable dream. To think of the artistry with which effects of bygone days, so revolutionary in their time and so quaint in ours, were treated. And yet they were always aids to the story, a part of the experience, whereas nowadays, too often are VFX employed as the entire experience, embellished with hunky guys, sexy girls and crafty stunts. G.I. Joe: Retaliation is one action set-piece after another, with occasional filler in the form of ill-judged scenes reliant on dialogue, that fusty relic of the medium. The action is even more incoherent than the storyline, edited to form an assault on the viewer and jazzed up with random loud noises, as if director Jon Chu was trying to convince us that something important was happening. Characters are rarely shown in transit - they appear on cue, sometimes at the other end of the earth, exacerbating the film's baffling sense of time and pace; reshoots near the start establish this film's unstable structure. Bruce Willis also appears, and has even less screentime than in his Ocean's Twelve cameo. Making a more substantial appearance are guns, which have a repulsive prolificacy in Retaliation, and the contrast between how dear Channing Tatum's demise (tragic) is depicted and the destruction of London and of presumably millions of people (trivial) is dumbfounding. This film's ignominious devotion to firearms is one of its many fun-sapping characteristics, which stand in stark contrast to the daffiness which Stephen Sommers brought to The Rise of Cobra, and which clearly yearns to break free in Retaliation. Chu never quite settles on which tone to strike - just how fantastical does one push it? Much further, I say, as it's way too deep into ridiculous territory as things are, with little to none of the action believable. Stupid, non-sensical, morally ugly, sexist, homophobic, racist and callous, and all in a bad way.