[UPDATE: Scroll down for an early look at Dwayne Johnson as Roadblock in the G.I. Joe sequel!].
Feelings about G.I. Joe: Retaliation have been on the mixed side - especially in the wake of information attained from the film's casting calls, which indicated the sequel may be adding several new characters (rather than established fan-favorites) to the mix.
Retaliation co-writer Rhett Reese's recent Joe-related tweet has cast some doubt on the implications of said casting calls. However, there is one new character that we can officially confirm will appear in the film.
Variety has learned that Emmy-nominee Walter Goggins has signed on for Retaliation, which will also include the likes of Dwayne Johnson, Ray Stevenson, and possibly Bruce Willis. The former will play a (good? bad?) character named Warden Nigel James in the G.I. Joe sequel.
Goggins was a respectable character actor long before he began playing Boyd Crowder on Justified, having also starred as Detective Shane Vendrell during all seven seasons of The Shield. He recently played one of the hunted human soldiers in Predators, got his tooth knocked out by Daniel Craig in Cowboys & Aliens, and will appear in this fall's Straw Dogs remake, as well as Steven Spielberg's upcoming Lincoln biopic.
This is good news then for the G.I. Joe followup, which is beginning production in New Orleans this month in order to make the summer release date previously held by Star Trek 2. Director Jon Chu will not only be working with a largely new cast on Retaliation, he also plans to deliver a far less polished and overblown action pic than Stephen Sommers did with G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
A "down and dirty" Joe flick should be welcome news for most fans, even those who feel that Rise of Cobra was a fun popcorn movie that didn't deserve the critical lashing it received back in 2009. The jury is still out on Chu's ability to deliver an entertainingly gritty sequel, since he's best known for helming installments in the Step Up franchise and the 3D Justin Bieber concert movie.
On the other hand, Chu may possess exactly the sort of technical expertise necessary to realize Reese and Paul Wernick's Retaliation screenplay as a fast and furious (sorry) combat flick. Sometimes all a franchise installment requires to work is a proficient director-for-hire to make sure all the effects and action set pieces are up to scratch (see: Final Destination 5, for a recent example). The fact that Chu has a distinct vision for his G.I. Joe sequel should only help in that regard.
Check out an image of Dwayne Johnson in costume as Roadblock on the G.I. Joe: Retaliation set below (click on the photo for a larger version):
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G.I. Joe: Retaliation is scheduled to hit U.S. theaters on June 29th, 2012.
"Roadblock" Image via Dwayne Johnson