Resident Evil: Retribution
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory and Michelle Rodriguez
Resident Evil: Retribution is the fifth installment in a film series originally based on a popular video game series produced by Capcom. The short summary of the first four films at the start of this one was a harbinger of things to come.
After being attacked by soldiers of the sinister Umbrella Corporation on a giant floating barge, the protagonist Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakes inside a holding cell and is subject to interrogation from brainwashed former ally Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). Quickly, however, Alice is freed from her cell by former Umbrella leader Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and his operative Ada Wong (Bingbing Li). It is Ada’s objective to remove Alice from the Umbrella facility where the majority of the film takes place, and rendezvous with a crack squad of commandos led by Leon and Barry (Urb and Durand, respectively). Along the way, a deaf girl named Becky (Aryana Engineer) joins their group, due to a plot contrivance, which leads the girl to believe that Alice is her mother.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson has created a film marked by its gruesome action scenes. For better or for worse, his distinctive visual style is evident—the film is chock-full of blood splatters, gruesome carnage and distracting computer animation. Despite initial visual stimulation, there is only so much slow motion, hand-to-hand combat and gunfire that one can view before being overcome by desensitization.
The film suffers from its script—also written by Anderson—whose sparse dialogue is often stilted and expository in nature. Even a normally reliable actor like Oded Fehr is reduced to staring blankly into the camera while occasionally grunting out a monosyllabic utterance before firing a big gun. The one exception is Durand as the cigar-chomping Barry, whose morbid delight at the proceedings makes him interesting to watch.
Speaking of interesting to watch, Anderson seems very interested in provocatively outfitting his female characters. Ada’s red cocktail dress with a thigh-high slit doesn’t seem like the most comfortable of outfits to be wearing while fighting a zombie horde, and the skin-tight black leather bodysuit that Alice wears for the film’s duration probably makes her feel like she’s inside a furnace. The costume choices are indicative of the overriding issue with the film—it looks good, but it’s quite hollow otherwise.
And yet, the film is not a complete fiasco. It does follow through on what it promises—lots of zombies die at the hands of people with large automatic weapons. There is a car chase through the streets of Moscow that is tense and exciting, and, as previously mentioned, Durand’s character provides the audience with at least one person of interest.
The electronic and guitar-driven score keeps the adrenaline pumping throughout the film. Overall, if you are looking for mindless action with wanton destruction, Resident Evil: Retribution might be the film for you. If you want any fulfillment with your zombie death, look elsewhere.