Resident Evil: Retribution
The fifth Res Evil movie might be vacuous but it delivers when it comes to action
Films based on videogames have a bad rep. That doesn’t stop some of them being hugely popular. Resident Evil, the most successful game-to-movie franchise, has so far grossed over $670 million worldwide. And it can put that success down to knowing its audience and continuing to deliver exactly what that core demographic expect with each and every instalment. Overseen by Brit Paul WS Anderson (who has produced and written all five films and directed three, including this one), Res Evil has rarely deviated from its formula.
Unsurprisingly Milla Jovovich is back as Alice fighting her way through hordes of zombies, mutants and other beasties to escape an Umbrella Corporation test facility that simulates Tokyo, Moscow and New York. There isn’t really much of a plot to get in the way of the action, and in a Res Evil movie that’s exactly the way it should be. Opening with a potted history of the films so far, to bring you up to speed, we jump straight into the action, hurtling from one spectacular explosion to the next gun fight to the next zombie showdown.
Resident Evil movies are simplistic and Retribution doesn’t rock the boat. It’s stupid but never claims to be anything else. Fortunately it runs at a faster pace than the previous film (Afterlife). This is action for action's sake, and some of the visual imagery is striking even if most of it defies the laws of physics. It doesn’t exactly follow the narrative of the Capcom series but fans of the game will recognise plenty of characters and monsters.
Admittedly the script is creaky and the acting is uniformly bad (Chinese star Bingbing Li, in her first English-speaking role appears to have had all her lines redubbed, though Sienna Guillory is similarly wooden despite English being her first language). Michelle Rodriguez is passable and scowls her way though her dual roles here, but it’s Jovovich’s show. The entire franchise has been built around her and she’s one of very few female stars who can topline a movie of this type.
Is Retribution a good film, no, but will you be bored, no (also feel free to add another two stars to the rating if you are a fifteen-year-old boy).