Paul W.S. Anderson‘s latest Resident Evil installment is by far the worst, with his obsession with slow-mo and introducing as many (pointless) characters as possible taking over what used to be a watchable franchise. Resident Evil: Retribution tries throwing in ten or maybe even more different characters into the mix, while still piggybacking most of the story on Milla Jovovich‘s Alice and her quest to stopping the Umbrella Corporation from continuing biological warfare on what’s left of the world.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) was at one point an employee of one of the largest companies in the world, the Umbrella Corporation. An outbreak caused the facility to go into quarantine mode, but Alice and soon the rest of the world realized that the virus was far too advanced to be contained or stopped, thus allowing director Paul W.S. Anderson to birth the popular video game franchise Resident Evil on the big screen, spawning sequels that seem to go on forever.
Resident Evil: Retribution kicks off literally seconds after the cliffhanger ending of Afterlife, which leaves us following Alice aboard a massive ship that is suddenly getting attacked by former friend Jill Valentine, now remotely controlled by Umbrella, and her gigantic army of faceless black-coat security guards that dress in leather almost as fancy as Alice’s.
Retribution re-introduces almost every popular cast member from the previous installments, despite most of them getting killed off in brutal fashion. Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Salmon and Oded Fehr are the most known from the past films, which means their sheer presence alone boosts this one up for fans from might-see to must-see.
Keep in mind Anderson adds even more faces, like Kevin Durand‘s Barry Burton, while also beefing up the involvement of Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). All of this should add up to be the most epic Resident Evil film yet, with an increased budget and even more eye-popping 3D, but the end result is actually the worst entry in the franchise and one of the most inconsistent and painfully dull action movies of the year.
Paul W.S. Anderson continues to steal directly from The Matrix as he fills his film with lots of tight leather, super slow-motion hand-to-hand combat and gunfire exchanges that make as little sense as possible when keeping the most basic rules of gravity in mind. If you simply soak this one in butter and call it a popcorn flick, you still might have problems properly digesting it. Anderson cares very little about the story or the timeline he and a few other directors have established in the previous films, so new things happen here that somehow have been cooking up since earlier films.
It makes about as much sense as it wants to, which is very little.
The worst mistake Retribution makes is that it opens with a bang that never gets followed up during a later scene. There’s explosions, slow-mo, tight leather and lots of Jovovich ass-kicking, but then the film sinks into another subplot about the evil Umbrella Corporation running even more secret tests and experiments behind Alice’s back. At this point you’re left wondering who is even left in the world to care, but Umbrella has an answer for that too! The end of the film basically confirms another sequel, much like how Afterlife concluded.
When discussing Afterlife I made sure to praise the 3D, even if it copied from so many other better action flicks. Anderson got the dimensions down to a T in Afterlife and it truly did feel like the best Resident Evil film from an action standpoint. Sure, it sacrificed the actual horror of the series and the original trilogy’s more complete way of thinking, but it was a damn cool experience on the big screen.
Retribution isn’t nearly as fun in 3D. The indoor hallway fight scenes are kind of dazzling, because the rooms are mostly spot-free and white, which contrasts the bloody showdowns quite nicely. Moving past the tightly filmed action sequences brings us outside, where the image is expanded upon, but never full of detail or eye-candy worth the extra $3 dollars.
Fans of the series might still want to check this out during a matinee showing, because it brings enough characters from the video game world on screen to make the die-hards squeal, but those looking for their proper September action fix will be disappointed with Retribution, because it’s an empty experience that has brief highlights that are mostly overshadowed by Anderson’s need to continue the franchise well past its prime, even if there’s absolutely no more material to work with.
Resident Evil: Retribution – 5.5/10