Resident Evil: Retribution

6 Overall Score
Visuals: 7/10
Plot: 5/10
Casting: 5/10

Solid action sequences and strong environments make the pseudo-worlds of Retribution believable and relatable.

Don't expect to see anything remotely consistent with the Resident Evil video game canon.

The entire premise of a Resident Evil movie adaption seems to be one of exaggeration compared to the almost believable storyline of the games they portray. Retribution is no different. We jump back into the ending of Afterlife, where director Paul W.S. Anderson continues his trek into what he seems best at with the series, which is capturing exaggeration and trying to find as many things to tie into these movies as possible. While from a film-making standpoint Retribution seemingly falters on nearly every turn, the pure enjoyment of a film like this is simply undeniable. Simply put, Resident Evil: Retribution only continues the film series’ tradition of ludicrous plot lines and zombie-tinged action that is sure to be enjoyable for anyone who knows what they are getting into – but might be a bit of a chore for anyone looking for a substantial take on the zombie genre.

This chapter focuses on Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her escape from an Umbrella facility in Russia – believable – and the juxtaposition of being chased by Umbrella while being helped to escape by a team of operatives sent in by… Albert Wesker? It doesn’t make things anymore confusing that Leon (Johann Urb) and Barry (Kevin Durand) end up in the group, but Alice is mainly assisted by Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), making for a mish-mash of plot draws in the process. Against them is not only the facility itself – Umbrella uses it to test biohazards in giant city-inspired areas that end up populated by Los Plagas and Executioners among other things – but The Red Queen returns with Jill Valentine as her main pawn. Sounds like a lot going on? Also at play is the fact that Alice discovers a girl that we are shown is her ‘daughter’ in a sense as the testing facility utilizes a quasi-cloning operation to populate the cities in their testing. As it turns out though, the girl’s actual mother – whose attempt at escaping is chronicled through the movie’s second scene of a suburbia zombie attack – is dead, though Alice takes her under her wing.

It’s pretty clear that the plot is simply just too busy at times for a zombie flick. To be totally blunt, the action suffers a bit, as when when more time is spent on focusing on the Jill/Alice conflict and the operative team spending forever stuck inside one of the makeshift cities fighting off a zombie Russian army. Video game comparisons aside, for now, Retribution simply feeds us too much in an attempt to include what could have otherwise been a few great characters (Leon, Barry, Ada) into the perhaps too imagined world that has been constructed since the first flick. Is it a bad idea to include things from the actual games? No, because people expect it now. But the fragility of the storyline is exposed as the chaos unfolds, leaving us strung along for hyped-up action sequences and glimpses of what could have been. There are times where things feel much less forced than others – see the Alice and Ada interactions as well as later spats between Alice and Leon – but even as people die and we’re led to a ridiculous ending, the movie doesn’t do much to emotionally attach us to the seemingly eventual demise of the human race.

The action itself is decent enough, though. We’re led through battles with a duo of Executioners and a massive licker, as well as the Resident Evil 5-inspired duel between the hero and Jill – just pretend Alice is Chris or something. The constant person-on-person fighting of this movie makes the zombie moments bittersweet and often subject to criticism, as at times the makeup and characterization of such monsters is borderline tacky – see the Russian Los Plagas army. But looking back, it’s that over the top nature that has brought us to this point, and it’s quite certain we won’t go back now. Whether it be slow-motion, x-ray fighting or impossible standoffs with zombies, the worldly moments of previous movies make the sometimes mechanical fighting of this film boring, but the sections of fight in the city mock-ups make for some fun enough breaks in the explanation of things. Add that up with some pretty unforeseen ‘gotcha’ moments throughout, and you have a passable horror-tinged action flick in that sense. Nothing more, nothing less.

With spurts of action breaking up the plot-heavy film we’re led through, it’s easy enough to say that a great deal of this is a misfire across the board. Resident Evil fans are sure to eat up the inclusion of the latest and greatest game moments into the movie, but anyone else isn’t going to be completely out of the picture. If you’re willing to check your fandom at the door and let Anderson continue his slice and splice of the Resident Evil universe, you can consider Retribution another solid ride on this ever-twisting train.

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Author: Jason Gardner View all posts by

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