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John’s Horror Corner: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

September 16, 2012

MY CALL:  Eh.  If you’re a major franchise fan then I won’t stop you.  But this had the most (not the best) action of the franchise, the least plot, and no major memorable moments whatsoever.  I felt generally unsatisfied and maybe even a bit bored by it. [C]  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  The other installments of the franchise (in order), as well as Underworld: Awakening and its prequels. DIMENSIONS:  I saw this in 2D and didn’t feel like I missed out on anything.  If you catch it in 3D, please throw us a helpful comment.


Online reviews of Retribution are already all over the place ranging from love to hate by franchise fans and newbies alike.  It seems that asking folks to list the Resident Evil movies in order of quality would be harder than getting an entire theater of fans to agree on pizza toppings.  This fifth franchise installment, as with each of its predecessors, manages to deliver a new take on presenting the Resident Evil world and the next step in an elaborate but perfectly followable plot.  The movie opens with a franchise story recap before picking up right where Resident Evil: Afterlife left off.

Resident Evil Retribution

CHARACTERS:  The irreplaceable Scream Queen Milla Jovovich (Faces in the Crowd, The Three Musketeers) returns as Alice fighting her way out of an Umbrella corporation virus outbreak simulation facility.  She is joined by Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), who is cute and all in her little gun-geisha mistress outfit, but her character feels totally unnecessary and she didn’t bring anything special to the flick.



So did Ada “choose” that dress knowing that she’d be fighting her way out of an Umbrella Corp facility?  Or did she just wake up in it like Alice in part one?  What gives here?

She also bumps into her not-really daughter (Aryana Engineer; Orphan).  Under orders from the Red Queen, they are being hunted by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory; Resident Evil: Afterlife, Resident Evil: Apocalypse) who is controlled by some weird mecha-spider attached to her sternum which, like her cleavage, goes well-exposed throughout the movie.

ThreeMusketeers 1024x384 Resident Evil: Retribution Trailer Analysis: What The Hell?

At Valentine’s side are Rain (Michelle Rodriguez; Resident Evil) in an unexpected role and Todd (Oded Fehr; Resident Evil: Extinction, Resident Evil: Apocalypse).  During this pursuit, a team including the horribly under-utilized Kevin Durand (Legion, Real Steel) and Boris Kodjoe (Resident Evil: Afterlife, Surrogates) are working their way into the Umbrella facility to rescue Alice and Ada.

Kevin Durand Resident Evil: Retribution

Oh, yeah, here’s Kevin Durand.

WHAT’S GOOD:  Alice’s outfit.  It’s new.  It’s bad-ass.  And it’s just conveniently waiting for her when she begins her escape from the facility just like when Beckinsale awakens from her cryo-chamber in Underworld: Awakening to find her boots and leathers “right there.”

Also, the hand-to-hand combat was best in the franchise here, but like the other action in the flick, it lacked good finishers and standout moments.  The axemen-executioners looked sooooo bad ass!  Great job on the concept and effects.  Really, all special effects were great, especially the opening action scene (which ended Afterlife) in slow motion reverse.  Very, very cool.

THE ACTION:  Minus a few short story-building parts, this movie boils down to a 90 minute action sequence.  This probably sounds amazing, right?  Basically continuous action.  But it wasn’t awesome.  All of the action felt like “background action.”  You know?  Like when Optimus Prime was fighting Megatron, there were all of the soldiers and other Autobots fighting Decepticons in the background and nothing cool happened with them while the camera was on the two heavy hitters.  In Retribution all of this action is never punctuated by awesome moments and there are not climaxes.  The action is “okay.”  But with all of the build-up and no big bang at the end I actually found myself feeling a bit bored.  Bored!  During an action movie with no shortage of action whatsoever!  I didn’t even think that was possible.  The most fun I had with the action was when Alice first starts to try escaping the simulation facility and she goes all gun-fu crazy on a series of zombies in a brightly lit hallway.

Look at how easily she counters zombie Jackie Chan’s eagle claw technique!

But, alas, there was no most awesome moment—so you feel like you’re “waiting” for the meat of the sequence the whole time.  Perhaps worst of all was the finale fight between Alice, Rain, Valentine and a few other good guys including Boris Kodjoe.  Hand-to-hand, weapons, guns and a lot of mundane choreography shot well and clever choreography shot poorly.

CREATURES:  Nothing new.  There’s the big brain-for-a-head dog monster, a few tentacle-mouthed zombies, the 15 foot tall executioners from Afterlife, and a small army of undead soldiers.  You’d think the big brain-headed dog would make for some great action.  Nope.  What about the giant executioners?  They might have been cool, but not nearly as cool as they should (and easily could) have been.

Maybe should have gotten braces…

Because now she looks like a Blade 2 reaper virus vampire on steroids!

PREMISE:  The theme of the movie is “Evil Goes Global.”  But nothing “felt” global about it.  The tone was less effective than previous franchise installments.  The global thing was that the simulation facility has different cityscapes—which Alice goes through like video game stages, one after the other—which emulate Moscow, Tokyo, etc., so that potential world power buyers could see how a virus outbreak would affect their enemy nation’s metropolises.  All that these “stages” accomplished was making the franchise feel like a video game; a fault which, until the release of this installment, the franchise had successfully altogether avoided.

OTHER ISSUES:  The antagonist here is the Red Queen.  Well, what happened to the White Queen?  Still working on a cure (i.e., antivirus)?  Deactivated?  What?  And why did Ada Wong and, as we later discover, Albert Wesker stop working for the Umbrella Corporation?  They never explain that.  It would take one line of dialogue, people!  What purpose does Alice’s clone’s daughter serve to the plot?  She seemed really important in the middle of the movie, but totally forgotten in the last third of the movie.  And why doesn’t the Red Queen make better use of the clones?  She  could program a bunch of Alice clones and, since their Alice’s clones, they’d be receptive to the virus and gain superpowers to take out the pesky Alice, Ada and the resistance.  How did Rain know she’d be receptive to the virus?  She injects herself with complete confidence.


A lot of people rave that they loved this flick, but don’t go saying it was fantastic online unless you can answer these questions based on what we saw in the movie.  Clearly, a failure on the part of the writers and director.  Let’s add that I never cared about most of the characters.

So…is Albert Wesker like, the President of the United States now?

FUTURE INSTALLMENTS?  The movie ends with a very Terminator-SkyNet standoff at the White House between the remainder of humanity against a legion of Resident Evil beasts.  So, as they tend to, they could easily pick up a sixth movie (perhaps Resident Evil: Resurrection) at the exact moment that closes Retribution.  Based on how Retribution went for me, I’d hope they have director Paul Anderson go back to his old ways with the franchise OR add a more dynamic pacing to the continuous action strategy, which could have gone tremendously well if done more thoughtfully.

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