The “Resident Evil” movie franchise may be considered as one of those things that I can call ‘guilty pleasure’. I mean, I never expect much from the films, and yet, for some reason I just cannot help watching them. Ok, perhaps it is because I really liked the popular video game series that had inspired the films, but then the movie franchise weren’t at all faithful to the tempo, the story and the mood of the video games. Perhaps it is because the movie franchise is all about style that emanates the feel of a ‘shoot them up’ and ‘rock them and sock them’ video game that has creatures and zombies in them. Well, it also helps when you have Milla Jovovich in the lead…
The film begins right after the events of “Resident Evil: Afterlife” (with some fancy play back effect), with the Arcadia freighter being attacked by a fleet of Umbrella airships led by a mind-controlled Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). Alice (Mila Jovovich) ends up captured and kept in a secret Umbrella facility where experiments were being held to further the development of the T-Virus as a weapon of war. Somehow, a security breach ends up freeing Alice, she escapes into the complex and finds several Umbrella operatives shot dead. Ada Wong (Li Bingbing, The Message) had arrived to free her and enlist her aid. Set to rendezvous with a team that includes Alice’s old friend Luther (Boris Kodjoe), Leon (Johnny Urb) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), they must fight their way through both the Red Queen’s human and monstrous forces.
The “Resident Evil” movie franchise have never had that intricate a script, they were made for “easy to digest” entertainment whose focus was visuals and action that revolves around a woman named Alice. Anderson made his return as director to the franchise in the recent movie “Afterlife”, and so he makes this latest film (that he also writes) a direct sequel to the recent one. One can see that the original film was closely followed by “Apocalypse” as a direct sequel, “Extinction” serves almost as an epilogue and a prologue to bond the series into episodes while “Afterlife” and “Retribution” are directly related. The script never did elaborate how much time had passed between the last three movies, and are all dependent on Alice’s point of view. Typical to Anderson’s writing, he opens up questions to several plot devices and opens up pockets, while finally explaining some things from “Afterlife”, he does open up some new things in the script that lacks development.
Previous characters make a return in the film, Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Jill (Sienna Guillory), Carlos (Oded Fehr), Luther, J-Pop Girl (Mika Nakashima) and Wesker (Shawn Roberts) while some new ones are introduced in the form of Ada Wong (Li Bingbing who really looked the part as a homage to the video game) and Becky (Aryana Engineer). There is nothing really inventive to the screenplay, it is meant to emulate a video game--not the “Resident Evil” games exactly but rather something that is more like the ‘shoot them up’ and fight your way out video game that goes play by play in different locations. The threats get more dangerous and monstrous the more our heroes get deeper into the complex, all for the build up of the final act. Anderson who also wrote the screenplay also pitches a subtle homage to “Dead Snow” while I am assuming tribute shots to the video game (I cannot 100 % be certain since my playing days of the game stopped after Resident Evil 4). He keeps things simple in his film; no puzzles or shocking developments, it is all about action and visuals as our heroes fight their way to reach some kind of ‘boss level’ threat.
The visuals were all made to capitalze on the 3D gimmick and is really a stunt show. I mean, the movie looked fantastic in 3D. The action was real good with the added effects, explosions were more powerful and shots packed more punch. Mila Jovovich still looked as great doing the action scenes as in the previous movies. She never loses a step which makes her one of the Hollywood’s bankable female action heroes. Alice is up against monsters (the souped-up, juggernaut Hunter monster was intimidating) , soldiers and her friends; she gets into a jam and somehow, you’ll know she will pull through. The script misses with what is called ‘emotional and dramatic’ content in the action scenes, which makes the scenes a little empty and predictable. The encounters while decent were not a cut above other action movies. Much as the story of “RE: Apocalypse” was standard, it packed a lot of punch when it came to the action scenes. “Retribution” tries but fails, as it tries to add an emotional device with Becky, but really, they were more made to set up the action than actually having a emotional connection in the script. Even when Alice confronted Jill and Rain; it was all so very predictable, but yet, somehow Anderson manages to make some good moments of action.
Paul W.S. Anderson had always been more of a director whose best attributes are all around delivering visual flair, and this film is no different. The creature designs (inspired by the video game) looked quite good, the film being a stunt show had that massive visual appeal. “Retribution” is the kind of movie that you ‘watch’ not for its plot or characters, but rather something that you can pass the time. It is a film that requires so little use of your brain and is better than "Afterlife". You can just relax and celebrate in all the monster-zombie action mayhem. Sometimes, we need movies like “Retribution”....again, 'sometimes'.
RENTAL [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
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