Time: 95 Minutes
Age Rating: contains horror scenes and violence
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine
Aryana Engineer as Becky
Li Bingbing as Ada Wong
Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy
Boris Kodjoe as Luther West
Kevin Durand as Barry Burton
Oded Fehr as Carlos Oliveira
Colin Salmon as James “One” Shade
Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus continues to ravage the Earth, transforming the global population into legions of the flesh eating Undead. The human race’s last and only hope, Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakens in the heart of Umbrella’s most clandestine operations facility and unveils more of her mysterious past as she delves further into the complex.
The Resident Evil movies aren’t particularly good, but I can’t deny that I find them quite entertaining. With the exception of Apocalypse which I found straight up bad, the other movies in the series are silly, very much not representative of the games they are based on, but yet work as some mindless fun. With original Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson’s returning to direct Afterlife, I found it that movie to be fun, but also felt a little underwhelmed at the same time. However, his work on Resident Evil: Retribution was much more of what I was looking for, and was probably the peak of the movie series.
The opening was admittedly a bit awkward. The credits sequence was a great start with a tracking shot reversed of an attack taking place after the end of Afterlife. Immediately after that however, it just cuts to Alice (Milla Jovovich) giving a recap of the previous movies, and it was just done kind of poorly done. Now Alice narrating what happened in the previous movies at the beginning of the next one isn’t uncommon, but the way they presented it here just looks really silly and out of place for the movie, as if it’s some teaser clip intended to be released online rather than put in the actual film. Without getting too into it, up to a certain point, much of the opening is a little jarring and you don’t really know what’s happening. After that point however, it started to really work for me. I actually didn’t know what to expect from Retribution really. While all the movies are very similar, I wasn’t sure about the plot or the setting, and so it was quite the surprise when I did watch it. I think the reason why this movie works so well compared to much of the other movies in the series is that it’s so silly that it actually seems self aware. So whenever an incredibly silly or goofy moment happens, it doesn’t come across as bad, as it actually enhances the experience and just makes the experience more fun in a B movie way. This is probably the first movie in the series that understands what kind of a series they are, and completely embraces it. If you’re a die hard Resident Evil game fan who doesn’t like what the movies have done, this won’t win you over. I’m not even sure that I can say that zombies take up more than half of the antagonists that the main characters are fighting against in this movie. As someone who only played one of the games, like with the other movies, there are some characters and references to the game series that you might enjoy seeing.
The acting is pretty much at the level of the other Resident Evil movies, that is to say generally fine and occasionally bad. Milla Jovovich is once again reliable as lead character Alice, there’s not a whole lot of progression with her character in the series, and Retribution doesn’t change anything either, but Jovovich is effective enough and makes the character work well enough. You also get returns of characters from previous movies played by Sienna Guillory and Michelle Rodriguez, and they are decent in their roles. The rest of the acting is just fine but nothing that good either. Even the appearances of known Resident Evil characters weren’t that impressive, with Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton and Ada Wong being included. Li Bingbing was relatively decent as Wong, but the other two characters really could’ve been swapped out for anyone.
Paul W.S. Anderson directs his third Resident Evil movie here, and it works a lot better than what he was trying to do with Afterlife. Like with Afterlife, he decided to film the movie in 3D and if you are nowadays going to watch this movie not in 3D, a lot of the moments have objects flying at the camera and look really goofy and forced. However visually the movie actually looks pretty good, and makes it an enjoyable action flick to watch. By now you must know that this is an action series at this point, and thankfully it absolutely delivers on that aspect here. Whether it be with zombies or other humans, the fight choreography and stunts are quite good, and what’s even better is that the movie actually allows you to see what’s going on and not burying it in obnoxious cuts to hide poor stunts. It also doesn’t fall into the problem that Afterlife had, where it brought out the big guns for the opening scene and the rest of the action scenes not really living up to that moment. Retribution however is consistently entertaining from beginning to end. Like in Afterlife, there is quite a lot of slow motion used, but thankfully Anderson pulled back on a lot of it so it’s not nearly as goofy. A lot of the CGI in the previous movies haven’t aged particularly well, however I think Retribution has good enough effects. Tomandandy once again returns to provide the score after Afterlife, and it is quite effective, mainly in the action scenes.
Resident Evil: Retribution edges Extinction out for best movie of the live action movie series. It strikes the right balance of being entertaining and silly, yet is well made as a B level action movie that makes it genuinely entertaining and not just something to laugh at. If you enjoyed any of the previous Resident Evil movies then I recommend trying this one too, I enjoyed it a lot more than I thought I would.