G.I. Joe: Retaliation – Review

Perhaps the most interesting part of the recent Joe installment is the story of Storm Shadow.  He and Snake Eyes are sworn mortal enemies and we know (from the first Joe movie) that it’s because Storm Shadow murdered their mentor.

Storm Shadow and Snake Eyes had been trained by the same master, and were much like brothers.  And, much like brothers, there was jealousy and competition between them—at least, on Storm Shadow’s side.  It seemed he was always coming in second and he was tired of being in Snake Eyes’ shadow.  One day Snake Eyes finds his master dead with Storm Shadow standing there, holding the sword in his back.  Storm Shadow ran and the two have been at war ever since.

In Retaliation we learn that all we knew about the story isn’t all there was to the story.  (That alone is quite a lesson for us all!)  Storm Shadow didn’t kill the master, he found the master—and he had been framed (the master was killed with a sword made to look just like his).  Maybe things could have been cleared up if he had tried to stick around and explain, or maybe he would have been killed first, and questioned later.  I don’t know.  Sometimes fleeing is the only option.  The one thing he DID have a choice about though, for certain, was his anger and hatred.

Storm Shadow had already been eaten up with jealousy and anger.  He already resented Snake Eyes.  Now that he was unjustly (though understandably) accused (by Snake Eyes, nonetheless), his sense of being wronged, his jealousy, his anger…they were inflamed all the more.  He went into a life of crime and became the bad guy they already suspected he was.  His actions only gave confirmation to their suspicions.  No one had any reason to suspect they had misjudged.  Storm Shadow became defined by hate.  In his own words, “It’s possible to feel so much hate you stop feeling it at all.  Like a fish in water.”

I can’t help but thinking about another man who suffered some similar trials:  horribly wronged by his own brothers, misjudged, falsely accused and framed.  This man also had to run for his life in a way that only made him look more guilty.  The difference was, this man never chose the path of hate.  He continually responded with grace and kindness and was such an exemplary person in all he did that he was exonerated before all in the end.  His story can be found in Genesis 37-50.  His name is Joseph.

Later in life, after Joseph became in a position of authority over all the land, he was reunited with his brothers, the same brothers who had wished him dead and sold him into captivity.  Understandably, they were afraid for their lives—they had grievously wronged their brother, and he was now the right hand of Pharaoh (aka very powerful).  Joseph’s famous, gracious response to his brothers reveals to us the true state of his heart—the depth of his forgiveness and peace and trust in God. 

But Joseph said to them, “Don’t be afraid. Am I in the place of God? 20 You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. 21 So then, don’t be afraid. I will provide for you and your children.” And he reassured them and spoke kindly to them.   (Genesis 50: 19-21)

How different is Joseph’s response from Storm Shadow’s!  Both were betrayed by family (practical or literal); both were falsely accused; both had to flee…but one responded with integrity and forgiveness, trusting in the sovereignty of God, while the other responded with hate.  Storm Shadow became the very thing he was accused of.  Joseph’s actions proved his accusers false.  In the end, Joseph was lifted up and placed in a position of great authority, power and respect, while Storm Shadow was nearly always on the wrong side of the law, fighting against people in authority, never respected and always desperate to prove his power over others.

Deuteronomy 30 is one of my favorite chapters in the Bible.  In it, God gives his people two possible paths for their lives and shows them where those paths will take them.  The chapter concludes with this, and I think it’s very applicable to our discussion:

“This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life. (v19-20)

Today, you have set before you life and death in the lives of Joseph and Storm Shadow.  Following in Joseph’s path, choosing to forgive, trusting in God’s sovereignty and His ability to use all things to His glory and good, that is a path of blessing.  But if you follow the way of Storm Shadow and respond with hate, bitterness, anger and unforgiveness – be warned that it is a way of curses.  So, choose life!  It will bless not only you, but your family and friends and generations to come.  Love the Lord!  Listen to his voice!  Hold fast to him!  That is the way of life.

Questions for Discussion:  

  • Have you ever been betrayed, falsely accused, and/or set up and framed?  How did you respond?
  • Have you ever been the one to betray some one else?  Or have you framed someone, or falsely accused them?  Was it intentional or accidental?  (Snake Eyes made an honest mistake when he falsely accused Storm Shadow, but Joseph’s brothers and Potiphar’s wife knew exactly what they were doing to Joseph – theirs was intentional).  How did you feel after?
  • How does it help you to forgive if you know that God will use all things (even things someone else intends for evil) for good?
  • Are there circumstances in your life right now that you could respond to differently if knew that God was using them for good?
  • Storm Shadow may be cool in some ways, but whose life would you prefer, his or Joseph’s – considering how they turn out?
  • God pleads with his people to “choose life” – He doesn’t want them to go the way of anger, disobedience, death, curses, pain…  He wants to save them from that.   Choose life! He says.  How does it make you feel to know that God WANTS you to live a life of…LIFE…of blessings and love and hope?  How can you choose life right now?
Click here to read a collection of quotes from G.I. Joe: Retaliation.

Review by Stacey Tuttle