Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) / Action-Sci Fi
MPAA rated: R for strong violence
Running time: 96 min.
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Aryana Engineer, Bingbing Li, Boris Kodjoe, Johann Urb, Robin Kasyanov, Kevin Durand, Orfilio Portillo, Oded Fehr, Shawn Roberts
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Screenplay: Paul W.S. Anderson
Review published September 24, 2012
Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth in the theatrical series based on the popular computer and console game, finds Alice (Jovovich, Ultraviolet) waking up in a top secret, high-tech bio-weaponry corporate facility (Umbrella) during a period in which the T-virus has rendered the human population all but completely extinct. In order to get out of the facility, our heroine must traverse a variety of virtual reality simulations that sees her encounter many of the scenarios and "bosses" she had defeated in prior movies.
Main nemesis, the sentient computer entity known as the Red Queen, is pulling out all stops to contain Alice before she can exact any additional damage. Now Alice, along with a sidekick (Engineer, Orphan) who believes herself to be her younger daughter (reminiscent of the Ripley/Newt dynamic from Aliens, a film this cribs from quite often), must battle against a seemingly endless horde of zombie and other creatures to make her escape and hope to save humanity.
As with the previous four entries in the stylish series, the main attraction of Resident Evil: Retribution lies with its visual action components, which blends Matrix-like futuristic science fiction with lots of bullets flying and martial arts fisticuffs. Also in keeping with its predecessors, the plot is confusing and futile to follow except in the most general sense, and each successive film feels more like a reboot of the series with better graphics rather than a continuation -- which is exactly how many video games are built to be. Each successive film merely erases that which it builds on, so it frequently amounts to one big reset button as an escape from its previous film's cliff-hanger ending. However, the film will make even less sense without seeing the previous four, so your state of confusion will likely go up the less you're familiar, though it might be beneficial to know that skipping the entire series altogether isn't a bad decision at all.
If your only attraction at this point is for seeing more Milla Jovovich in skin-tight attire while running from explosions and slo-mo battle sequences, you'll get that, but also little else. This one is no better or worse than anything that has come before in terms of storyline, but it's interesting to see that Anderson is so bereft of ideas now, that he's just resolving to create just another clone, borrowing scenes and ideas from his own works in order to sustain another entry. It's a ready-built film for a ready-made audience -- if you're not sure if you're a part of that, you're not.
-- Follows Resident Evil, Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Resident Evil: Extinction, and Resident Evil: Afterlife
©2012 Vince Leo