G.I. JOE: RETALIATION
Summer tent pole movies are known for action sequences that defy
reality and thrill audiences, and the filmmakers set out to make G.I.
JOE: RETALIATION a guaranteed crowd pleaser. Director Jon M.
Chu had the benefit of working with a double-punch combination of stunt
coordinator Steve Ritzi and fight coordinator Thomas Dupont, who
created and choreographed elaborate sequences sure to wow action
fans. "The most creative ideas happened in the collaboration
between the stuntmen, actors, director, producers and the writers to
create a couple of the sequences that are utterly unique in this
movie," explains di Bonaventura. "What audiences are going to
find is that when they get into the action it will be intense as hell
and something they've never seen before."
Stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi loved the opportunity to create sequences
for both the military and ninja storylines and all that each aesthetic
had to offer. "It was challenging having two different
elements that are so different," recalls Ritzi. "The G.I. JOE
style was much more straight-forward and then we had the ninjas with
very specific choreography and other fun unexpected elements like
slinging and flying them through the mountains. The
combination was really fun."
In the first act, audiences are introduced to the G.I. JOE team and
their level of physical intensity illustrated by two grandiose action
sequences that set the bar for the level of action the audience can
anticipate. On a mission to neutralize Pakistan's' nuclear
arsenal, the teams perform a dangerous and high-risk extraction with
great precision and skill. The sequence is an action
smorgasbord that involves high-height rappelling, hand-to-hand combat,
parkour, gunplay and a great deal of weaponry and ammunition.
The sequence showcases each of the G.I. JOE team members' special skill
set and their undeniable proficiency and domination as a team.
Shot in NASA's VAB, short for the Vertical Assembly Building, the
production team utilized the 220 foot tall ceilings and
never-before-seen rocket boosters to push the limits of the action
coverage. "The production value is amazing and we had
Roadblock and two other JOE'S repel down the face of this 200-foot
rocket into battle," explains stunt coordinator Steve
Ritzi. "There are G.I. JOE'S literally raining from
the sky firing at insurgents the whole way down. We had people
shooting, falling and fighting at every level and each character has
their own moment within the fight. It was pretty elaborate."
"The scene in the nuclear weapons depot illustrated the units'
cohesiveness and efficiency and showcases their talents as soldiers,"
explains Dwayne Johnson.
While celebrating the successful completion of the complicated and
dangerous mission with no G.I. JOE lives lost, the team is ambushed and
blindsided by a powerful force that essentially wipes out the majority
of the unit. The stunts and special effects team orchestrated
a powerful and explosive portrayal of a military force under
siege. The sequence involved Humvee's blown 30 feet into the
air, numerous rocket-charges staged all over the set and vehicles on
fire all within a carefully choreographed sequence that implicated the
extensive unit of core G.I. JOE's, additional Navy Seals, over 30
stuntmen and roughly 40 extras. Doing the stunts practically
with little plans for CGI enhancement meant real explosions and the
amount of charges and ammunition on the set left little to no error for
margin. "Most of the hits and explosions are all very real.
We're not enhancing a lot," explains Ritzi. "We're doing charges right
next to our actors and stuntmen and wanted to experience them taking
the hits and showing the action in a very realistic manner."
Although the sequence was incredibly complicated, the filmmakers worked
as a team to map out the action to create a seamless portrayal of the
unfolding devastation. "The special effects guys were amazing
and had it designed to where we had these large special effect pods
built into the set and Jon M. Chu, Steve Windon, our 1st AD Phil
Patterson and I designed the layout where the actors should move to and
from with our stunt team filling in the holes," recounts
Ritzi. "It's a very elaborate sequence that could have gone
either way, but everyone really came together and it worked out really
The centerpiece action sequence that is sure to be a much talked about
crowd pleaser is a sequence that involves a high-altitude zipline chase
and Ninja fight on the mountaintops of the Himalayas. After discovering
that Storm Shadow was healing and seeking refuge with the red Ninjas in
a Nepalese monastery, Snake Eyes and Jinx set out to retrieve him and
bring him back to the Blind Master for judgment. After an
epic fight between the two adversaries that leads to having Storm
Shadow's unconscious body in tow, the duo are forced to take the only
route of escape. The most dangerous sequence follows them down the
majestic snow-covered mountainside on a zip line while being chased by
hordes of red ninjas.
"When we first read that sequence we had to ask ourselves if we could
actually pull it off," recalls di Bonaventura. "It took its
shape along the way and, with a little bit of luck, an incredible stunt
team to do some seriously crazy things on ropes and a few key visual
effects, it will have an excitement level and scale I don't think
audiences have seen before."
The sequence entailed several months of rigging, huge high-speed
winches that were flown up to the mountaintops and anchored down into
big tents and thousands and thousands of feet of line that strung
between peaks. Expert mountain climbing expert Paul Borne was
brought in and with the help of key rigger Dave Lane, Ritzi and the
team pulled off the extraordinary sequence. "It's very
elaborate and I think when people see it they'll assume it was done
completely with CGI, when we actually did the majority of it," says
Ritzi. "We had huge 100-foot repels down the sides of
mountains, a lot of shuttling back and forth with helicopters and
Snowcats carrying equipment back and forth. It was
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