GI Joe: Retaliation 3D (12A) ***

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If at first you don’t succeed, churn out a sequel.

The original G.I. Joe film, subtitled The Rise Of Cobra, opened at the peak of the 2009 summer blockbuster season to a blitzkrieg of largely negative reviews.

Aimed predominantly at teenage boys with limited attention spans, the all-guns-blazing romp based on the popular line of military action figures stormed past 300 million dollars in worldwide box office takings.

Money talks louder than a flimsy script, weak characterisation and clumsy digital effects, so director Jon M Chu (Step Up 3D) locks and loads for this bigger-budget sequel, which raises the action ante with eye-popping set pieces and bruising showdowns.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is slicker and more entertaining than its predecessor, although the bar wasn’t set particularly high.

Screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick sensibly kill off swathes of their cast in the explosive opening sequence in order to focus attention on a handful of undernourished characters.

Once the dust settles, we learn that arch-villain Cobra Commander (Luke Bracey) is in stasis in a subterranean prison and his henchman Zartan (Arnold Vosloo) is installed in the White House, impersonating the President of the United States (Jonathan Pryce).

Zartan frames the G.I. Joes as traitors to the American cause and wipes out most of the brave men and women in order to clear the way for the rise of the Cobra terrorist network.

Roadblock (Dwayne Johnson), Flint (DJ Cotrona) and Lady Jaye (Adrianne Palicki) survive the bloodbath and quickly realise that the order to terminate must have come from the upper echelons of power.

So the Joes march back to American soil and seek help from legendary retired operative General Joseph Colton (Bruce Willis).

G.I. Joe: Retaliation is preoccupied with spectacle over substance but does deliver a few pulse-racing thrills and spills that make good use of the 3D.