Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Running Time: 95 mins
Resident Evil: Retribution is a British/French/German film and the fifth in the Resident Evil series. After reaching Arcadia, Alice immediately comes under fire from the Umbrella Corporation, after which she finds herself being held in the middle of their test facility. With Umbrella throwing everything possible to bring her down, Alice must find a way to escape to keep the fight against the ever-strengthening T-virus alive.
Teetering on the edge of bad last time out in Afterlife, I’m afraid to say that Resident Evil: Retribution is nothing more than a bad film. It’s got a few fun moments, but it’s the first edition in the series that’s failed to grab my attention and entertain me, whilst its performances, directing and particularly its story are all much poorer than any of the films before it.
Let’s start with the film’s weakest point: the plot. As I’ve said time and time again, these film’s don’t need a good story to be entertaining, but when the silly sci-fi and action aren’t on top form, a bad story feels a lot worse. As that’s the case here, I found it exceedingly difficult to get engrossed in what was an overly serious and complex story.
Losing the fun-loving innocence of the series’ best films, Retribution takes itself far too seriously with regards to the introduction of new concepts in the Resident Evil world. When, before, you could laugh and smile at clones, zombies and more, this film goes about all these things at a far slower pace, and with a lot more exposition, evident of a story that wants to be understood and taken a little more seriously.
However, following a seven minute-long recap at the beginning of the film, the screenplay just gets worse and worse as we go along, bringing in all manner of new ideas and concepts, as well as introducing various characters in new ways, but not managing to make any of them convincing or even interesting, the main result of which is a dragging and dull watch throughout.
And whilst earlier films’ poor stories have salvaged themselves with simple targets and objectives, the goal of Retribution, set within the entire series’ story arc, is far too convoluted, something that causes the excessive exposition throughout, all contributing to a slower, less action-packed, and less entertaining movie.
Now, another reason that the film isn’t so enjoyable is because of Paul W.S. Anderson’s directing. Just like Afterlife, the film’s overly serious and high-stakes tone takes away from the fun-loving vibe of the best films in the series, but the way Anderson also goes about directing the film’s supposedly more entertaining sequences that’s a disappointment.
Whilst I do think the biggest action sequences are the film’s brightest moments, they’re still a far cry from how truly entertaining this series can be. With good choreography and visual effects, the fights may look cool, but Anderson directs them in a very stale manner, and doesn’t really allow you to be as engrossed as possible, largely due to a lack of dynamic camera movement that furthers the film’s frustratingly serious tone.
And finally, there’s the performances. Milla Jovovich’s steely performance has been the real rock of the series so far, but even she sadly disappoints here. Whilst her co-stars all feel very expendable and as such uninteresting (as has been the case over the last two films), Jovovich goes from being a hard-as-nails, steely and intense persona to looking frankly bored throughout.
With some new emotional undertones introduced to the character of Alice, Jovovich could have been able to bring a surprising level of dramatic depth to the series, but after five films of playing an increasingly one-dimensional character, who has become far less likable and far more invincible, her performance really feels like watching someone going through the motions, and although that’s perfectly understandable given the film’s generally poor quality, it is a shame to see.
Overall, I was very disappointed by Resident Evil: Retribution. I’ve never felt like this series had to do much to be entertaining, but the one thing it shouldn’t do is become too serious and stale. That’s exactly the problem with this movie, and with an even worse story than usual, poor directing and even a poor central performance, there’s very little to really enjoy here, and that’s why I’m giving it a 5.7.