Movie Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

‘Retribution’ adds nothing to series, 1.5/5 stars

Todd Miller | Collegio Writer

The big summer releases are behind us and the holiday season releases are still a month away, meaning new releases right now are mostly shallow tripe, like “Resident Evil: Retribution.”
The film is a sequel to “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” and it is part of the “Resident Evil” series. “Retribution” makes this clear, spending the first 20 minutes recapping the whole series and showing a battle that should’ve taken place in the previous movie … twice.
After the battle, Alice (Milla Jovovich) finds herself captured in an unknown location, where she is interrogated by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), a former ally who seems to be working for the Umbrella Corporation.

Alice (Milla Jovovich) dispatches a zombie in "Resident Evil: Retribution" (Screen Gems/Sony, 2012).

Alice (Milla Jovovich) dispatches a zombie in “Resident Evil: Retribution” (Screen Gems/Sony, 2012).

Alice is freed by Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) after a power failure. Wong is working for Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Both are former enemies of Alice but they want to help her now. This part of the back story isn’t elaborated on in the film, so you know anything about them only if you’ve seen the previous films.
Ada and Albert explain to Alice that she’s in an undersea base used by the Umbrella Corporation to test the spread of the T-virus in major cities around the world. Albert also tells Alice that the Red Queen (played by Megan Charpentier and voiced by Ave Merson-O’Brian), an older antagonist in the series, now controls Umbrella and wants Alice killed before killing the rest of the world.
And that’s it. “Resident Evil: Retribution” feels like a chunk in a larger action movie rather than an action movie in its own right. The plot is shallow and arbitrary. It serves only as an excuse to string several action scenes together. This is made worse because the movie doesn’t have to remain committed to a single location, and the characters move from stark corporate hallways to the streets of Tokyo, New York City, Moscow, suburbia and the freezing Arctic plains. All in the course of a few in-movie hours. There’s hardly any dedication, and it affects nearly every aspect of the film.
The characters are shallow, too. If any characters faced danger or death, I wasn’t invested enough to care. I was lucky enough to remember the names of two characters, at best. The rest were background noise. The movie put so little focus on who they were, that there was no connection.
When the movie does try to focus on characters and their emotions, it is done for arbitrary reasons. We’re introduced to a minor subplot where Alice finds the character Becky (Aryana Engineer), a hearing-impaired child who believes Alice is her mother. However, Becky (and everyone she knows) are clones produced for the suburbia testing facility. Becky’s mother is a clone of Alice. They bring Becky into the film and predictably Alice becomes emotionally attached to her, wishing to protect her. It feels like a cheap attempt to add drama to the plot. If they had left it out, the movie would not have been affected. Or, at least, they could’ve spent the extra time giving the audience details on more important characters or the plot.
Instead we get some tense moments where, “Oh, no, how is the child in danger now.” There’s an interesting scene where Becky comes across the clone production facility with Alice. That’s about it.
“Resident Evil: Retribution” does get one thing in its favor; the action scenes are nicely done. They are choreographed well and visually interesting. I guess it goes to show that a bad movie can make itself look presentable. If you’re a fan of the “Resident Evil” series, “Retribution” is probably worth seeing, if only to see the continuation of the series as a whole. On its own, however, “Retribution” doesn’t hold water and falls apart fast. Definitely worth a miss.

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