Sometimes, just sometimes, it takes more courage to give up than to press through. A lesson Paul W.S. Anderson is yet to learn. He continues flogging a dead horse with action-sci-fi-horror-thriller Resident Evil: Retribution, perhaps hoping the fifth strikes gold. The fifth of anything is rarely the freshest – not in marriages, not in food and certainly not in film. Yet, there are glimmers of hope in this zombie infested sequel, which actually offers moments of real terror and excitement. At the end of the day it fails as a film, but succeeds as entertainment.
The Resident Evil franchise has always been criticized by critics and gaming fans. The original 2002 film was loosely based upon the Capcom video games of the same name, but with completely different characters. Over the years Anderson has managed to build a fan base for the franchise. Half of the fans are focused on his big explosive 3D popping action sequences and the others on Milla Jovovich (Anderson’s wife) parading in a black catsuit. Whether you fall into either one of the previous mentioned groups, Anderson has packed a bigger punch in Resident Evil: Retribution. If you can forgive the lack of story, the incoherent storytelling, the appalling acting, and the mindless action then I guess it’s all thumbs up.
Jovovich is back as Alice, and there are a number of other familiar faces amongst the crowd too, most notably Michelle Rodriguez. Mastermind Anderson reconnects Retribution with the first entries, but continues after the events of the previous film, Resident Evil: Afterlife. Alice is shooting quarters from her oversized shotguns, dodging endless amounts of bullets on the ship. She is subsequently knocked unconscious by an explosion and wakens to discover that she is being held hostage in a white room in an underground Umbrella Corporation lair. Not long after, a traitor (a previous enemy) helps set her free. Together, with the help of a group of freedom fighters, they battle against an endless amount of zombies, mutants and creatures unleashed by The Red Queen (remember her? The child-like AI responsible for unleashing the deadly virus that brings about the zombie apocalypse?). The entire film focuses on their escape of the underground lair.
There are brief pauses, every fifteen minutes or so, between action sequences to explain the plot to confused viewers. It’s here that we find the weakest parts of the movie. Their monologues are terrible and the performances one-dimensional. There is nothing to be taken seriously here, least of all the direction by Anderson. As retarded as it all is, it is great popcorn entertainment. The key is leaving your brain at the entrance before viewing.
There is sad news for those hoping that this is the finale. “When I came back to do the fourth film, I said I hope it’s the start of a brand new trilogy,” Anderson says. “I feel like there’s one more movie to be made where everything comes to an amazing climax.” Well, it can only go up from here right?