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John’s Horror Corner: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012), yup… more Milla Jovovich, more clone stuff, more mutant zombies, covering more of the planet.

June 3, 2017


MY CALL:  It’s not “great” and there are no “wow” moments, but this movie is a nonstop action sequence and I find it pretty entertaining…even if I probably won’t want to see it again for another 10 years. LOL.  MORE MOVIES LIKE Resident EvilResident Evil (2002), Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), Doom (2005), the Silent Hill movies (2006, 2012) and the Underworld franchise (2003-2017) come to mind.  For a fine ratings vs earnings comparison of the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises check this feisty article out.

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—I’d say 1, 3, 5, 2, 4.  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 elaborately plot-holey but perfectly followable plot.  The movie opens with a franchise recap (Milla’s typical narration) before picking up right where Afterlife (2010) left off.

Paul W. S. Anderson (Resident Evil 1 & 4-6, Mortal Kombat, Event Horizon, Soldier) continues to helm the beloved Zompocalypse franchise and continues to spread his love of slow-motion during our opening action sequences.  The irreplaceable Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil 1-6, Ultraviolet) returns as Alice fighting her way out of an Umbrella corporation virus outbreak simulation facility.  She is joined by Ada Wong (Bingbing Li; Transformers: Age of Extinction), who is butt-kickin’ cute in her gun-geisha mistress outfit.  She also bumps into her Jovo-clone’s daughter (Aryana Engineer; Orphan) and her simulation clone neighbor (Michelle Rodriguez; Resident Evil, The Fate of the Furious).

Of course, at some point, Alice wakes up and spends abundant screen time scantily clad in a research facility before finding a ninja dominatrix outfit and all the weapons she could ever want.  Just conveniently waiting for her just like when Beckinsale awakens from her cryo-chamber in Underworld: Awakening to find her boots and leathers “right there.” Shortly after Alice’s hips and side-boob show, Wesker (Shawn Roberts; Resident Evil 4-6, xXx: The Return of Xander Cage) appears to drop an exposition bomb to explain the whole movie to us.

Under orders from the Red Queen, they are being hunted by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory; Resident Evil 2 & 4) who is controlled by some weird mechanized heart-spider (that never gets explained) attached to her sternum which, like her cleavage, goes well-exposed throughout the movie.  At Valentine’s side are Rain (Michelle Rodriguez; Resident Evil, The Fate of the Furious) and Todd (Oded Fehr; Resident Evil 3-4), both bad guy clones of Alice’s former friends.  During this pursuit, a team including 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…and they’re working for Wesker!?!?!

The theme of the movie is “Evil Goes Global.”  But nothing felt particularly global about it (until the very last scene).  The tone and setting was notably less effective than previous franchise installments.  The global element seemed that the simulation facility has different cityscapes—which Alice goes through like video game stages, one after the other—which emulate Moscow, Tokyo, Suburbia, and so on, 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 avoided.

Throughout these levels we find undead Russian soldiers, the giant hulking ogres from Afterlife and they still throw their axes in slow-motion, and we see a lot of a super-sized tongue lasher monster from first Resident Evil.  However, the execution of their action is rather lackluster.

Featuring solid zombie attack action and combat choreography, I liked the bright white hallway action sequence.  The gunshot blood-splatter gore was occasionally decent, but left much to be desired.  In fact, I could say that about most of the action.  The sprinting zombies with their quad-unhinging tentacle jaws (like Blade II’s vampires) were cool…at first.  What happened?  Similarly shocking, the hand-to-hand combat was best in the franchise, but it lacked good finishers and standout moments.

Minus a few story-building scenes, this movie essentially boils down to a continuous 90-minute action sequence.  This probably sounds amazing, right?  It wasn’t.  All the action felt a lot like “background action” in an otherwise great action movie.  You know?  Like when Optimus Prime was fighting Megatron, there were soldiers and other Autobots fighting Decepticons in the background (and it looked good), but nothing particularly cool would happen with the background fighters while the camera was focusing on the two heavy hitters.  In Retribution, this action is never punctuated by awesome moments; there are no highlights or climaxes.  Perhaps worst of all was the arctic martial arts finale between Alice, Rain, Valentine and others.  Hand-to-hand, Asian weapons, guns, and a lot of clever choreography…it was all entertaining. Very entertaining.  But I kept waiting for the “Wow.”  It never came.

The movie ends with a very Terminator-SkyNet apocalypse standoff at the White House between the remainder of humanity against a legion of Resident Evil beasts as if the videogames vomited all over the screen (perhaps in a good way).  So, as they tend to, they could easily pick up part 6 at the exact moment that closes Retribution, much as Retribution did with Afterlife (2010).

I have had a blast revisiting these films. Even the lesser installments are fun to watch (as long as it’s been a while).  Looking forward to part 6.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. June 4, 2017 11:55 am

    I love the Resident Evil movies, but my revisits tend to stop at Part 3. Can’t stand re-watching the later sequels myself, in that the action gets pretty dull. But some part of me still enjoys watching Milla kick ass anyhow! 😉

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 4, 2017 12:02 pm

      I think part 3 might be my favorite. I love the action, setting and sense of scale. Did you see part 6? I am seeing it sometime this week.

      • June 4, 2017 12:05 pm

        3 was definitely a good bit of fun! I skipped 6, as Afterlife and Retribution were disappointing for me. Excited to read your thoughts and find out if it’s worth watching!

    • John Leavengood permalink
      June 4, 2017 12:09 pm

      Yeah, 4 and 5 were really missing something. With all of its action and different action sets, I’ll bet if part 5 had part 3’s director it would have been awesome.


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