Horror / Sci-Fi / Action

Resident Evil: Retribution

Distributed By: Screen Gems

Reviewed by Melissa Minners

            Okay, so I am a big Resident Evil fan - playing the games, watching the movies and reading the books - but can too much of a good thing be, well, too much?  I mean, the last film in the series, Resident Evil: Afterlife, was okay, but not one of the best in the series.  The fact that it was 3D was problematic because it felt like the filmmakers were playing up too much to the 3D aspect and forgetting about the storyline.  I knew there would be a sequel simply because of how the last one ended, but I hoped they would see the error of their ways and dump the 3D stuff.  No such luck - in fact, I heard that there were going to be more 3D effects and some zombies riding motorcycles and shooting guns.  Sigh!  It was with some trepidation that I hit the theaters to check out the fifth installment in the Resident Evil live action film series, Retribution.

            Picking up where Afterlife left off, the survivors on board the Arcadia are attacked by Umbrella Corporation soldiers flown in by helicopter and led by a mind controlled Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory).  We watch as Alice falls overboard after an explosion. 

            Shortly afterwards, a long-haired, softer version of Alice is preparing to take her hearing impaired daughter Becky (Aryana Engineer) to school, while her husband, Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) prepares for work.  Suddenly, the family is attacked by T-virus zombies.  Carlos is quickly killed, but Alice and Becky escape and receive some short-lived help from Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez).  After a car accident, Alice and Becky take refuge in a house, but are once again attacked by zombies.  Becky hides in the closet while Alice tries to draw the zombies away.

            Suddenly, Alice wakes up and we see she is being held captive at an Umbrella Corporation installation, tortured at intervals by Jill Valentine until Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) sends in his operative Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) to rescue her.  According to Wong, she and Wesker no longer work for Umbrella.  In fact, they are working against Umbrella as the Red Queen (Megan Charpentier and the voice of Ave Merson-O'Brian) has decided that all human life on Earth is to be terminated.  They need Alice to help them defeat the Red Queen and have put together an extraction team to help her escape.  The team consists of Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) and some associates.

            Unfortunately, in order to leave the installation, the group must move toward one another while traveling through computer simulated towns featuring undead and clones of individuals long dead.  It is at this point that we realize that the scene featuring Alice and her family consisted of clones enduring a biohazard simulation.  As they move toward their goal, the Red Queen tracks them and offers up quite a mess of biohazards and cloned soldiers alike in an effort to prevent the team from ever leaving the installation.

            While fighting through zombie-ridden simulated sets featuring your regular zombies, your super-enhanced creatures and zombies who are capable of riding motorcycles and shooting weapons, Alice stumbles upon Becky who, knowing nothing of the clones, believes Alice to be her mother.  Alice feels responsible for Becky and vows to keep her safe as they head to their destination, but will they make it or will the Red Queen finally get the best of Alice once and for all?

            Okay, I get it - people missed some of their favorite characters that got offed in previous films.  So, the powers that be decided it would be cool to resurrect folks like Rain, Carlos and One (Colin Salmon) as clones.  I can see that - after all, Alice was cloned several times, right?  I even liked the fact that some of the Rain clones featured a softer, less militaristic Rain that actually offered up a laugh or two in the movie, while others were the same badass soldier we knew and loved in the original film.  I can also see people wanting Jill Valentine back.  I can understand the gamers wanting to see Leon and Ada as well.

            That being said, I think that the powers that be moved too far in trying to please the gamers and forgot that they were supposed to be creating something based on the game yet uniquely enjoyable on its own merit.  By trying to have too much of what gamers wanted to see, plus adding more and more 3D elements into the mix, the filmmakers actually destroyed the film.  With the exception of Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez and Aryana Engineer, the acting was wooden, the dialogue atrocious and the storyline bogus.

            Making Jill a mind-controlled bad guy in this one was simply a bad idea.  Did someone think it would be cool to see Milla fight Sienna, because I rather liked it better when she was on Alice’s side.  And why the blonde hair?  Did the filmmakers think we were too stupid to realize the difference between Jill and Ada?  Where did the Redfields (Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller) and K-Mart (Spencer Locke) go?  And whose great idea was it to add this Becky character.  Seems like someone decided to throw a serious nod towards Aliens with this addition.  Not only does the character resemble Newt, but Newt’s real name is Rebecca…hmmm.  And the way Alice acts towards her, the fact that she is not killed but taken later in the film and sort of cocooned - dude!  Total rip-off!

            That being said, if I was going to this film just to see elements from the game I love joined together to create some amazing action scenes, I got exactly what I came for.  The action in Resident Evil: Retribution is incredible, featuring a crazy car chase scene, awesome hand-to-hand combat, guns ablazing, cool weaponry and even cooler explosions.  The fact of the matter is that action-wise, the creators of this film definitely outdid themselves.

            But I didn’t just come for that and it saddens me to see the direction that this franchise has taken.  I have amazing respect for Milla Jovovich and her dedication to this project.  She, in fact, was the best part of this movie, performing wonderfully (despite the crappy dialogue) and believably throughout the entire film.  I’m also thankful for the addition of the Rain clones as they showed Michelle Rodriguez’s range as an actress and, well, I just love that badass Rain! 

            I can enjoy the Resident Evil: Retribution for its action and for certain of its actors, but the fact of the matter is that the film is really a waste of hard-earned money when you think of the price of a movie ticket.  Fortunately, the money I spent on a matinee 2D showing was not only half of what I might have spent on a full priced 3D showing, but not my own hard-earned money as I was fortunate to have received a gift card to see the film.  I am so disappointed in what the franchise has become that I doubt I will venture to the theaters to see another Resident Evil film in the future.  If I’m going to be disappointed, I may as well do so in the comfort of my own home.


For more Resident Evil, check out these articles:

Resident Evil

Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Resident Evil: Apocalypse - The Book

Resident Evil: Extinction

Resident Evil: Extinction - The Book

Resident Evil: Afterlife

Resident Evil 4: Wii Edition

Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles

Resident Evil: Degeneration

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