Length: 95 minutes
Release Date: September 14, 2012
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Stars: 4 out of 5
Films based on video games get a bad reputation in the industry, in part because many of those films fail at the box office. The same is not true of the “Resident Evil” franchise, which continues to make money year after year. The films follow the same formula: female character gets into trouble, figures out what to do next, and takes action to save the lives of others. That same formula appears in “Resident Evil: Retribution,” and director Paul W.S. Anderson shows that the formula can still work brilliantly.
The last film in the franchise had an ambiguous ending, which lets fans know that another one was on its way. “Resident Evil: Retribution” starts off just minutes after the last film ending, showing the helicopters from that film descending on the hero Alice (Milla Jovovich, “Dazed and Confused”). The shots of the helicopters falling out of the sky and attacking Alice are some of the best scenes in the film. Anderson then jumps to a short prologue that features some of the top scenes from the other films, letting the viewers know the plot so far.
Alice meets Ada Wong (Li Bingbing, “1911”), a young woman almost taken captive by an underground group, and the two embark on a journey together to stop the villain. Alice discovers that the journey is not as easy as she previously thought when she encounters two people from her past. Carlos (Oded Fehr, “The Mummy”) and Rain (Michelle Rodriguez, “The Fast and the Furious”) turn up as close, reminding Alice of the relationships she had in the past. Through flashbacks, the film reminds viewers of Rain’s role in the first film and reveals new details about the past she had with Carlos.
Fans of the video game series had one major complaint with the films: a lack of familiar characters. This film hopes to change all that by bringing back the character of Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory, “Eragon”). Though Valentine is one of the most popular characters in the game series, she only appeared one time onscreen, which was a small cameo in the last film. In this one, she is a member of the evil Umbrella Corporation brainwashed into believing that Alice is the evil one.
Director Paul W.S. Anderson knows what it takes to bring a video game to the big screen. He served as director for each of the films in the franchise, and this film shows that he has the skills needed for future films. Whether he zooms in closely to show the pain as Alice learns more details about her past or he pulls the camera back to show the bleak nature of the environment, he adds little elements that make the film pop on the screen. He even takes a page from “The Matrix” playbook with slow-motion camera work that adds an intensity to otherwise boring scenes.
A “Resident Evil” film cannot succeed without the acting work of Milla Jovovich. From the moment that the actress steps on screen in her classic Alice gear, fans will want to scream and shout. The actress started her career as a teenage model, and it’s clear that she learned to express herself. She can do more with her eyes in one short scene than some actresses can do with several minutes and the best screenwriter in the world. She shares an amazing chemistry with some of the other actresses in the film, which makes those scenes only stronger. Both Rodriguez and Guillory have a connection with Jovovich, which adds an extra layer to the antagonistic relationships they have onscreen.
While some fans were disappointed with “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” this film packs the punch that fans wanted in that last film. The action starts in the first scene, and it seldom stops throughout the rest of the film. Though it isn’t as strong as the first film in the franchise, it is easily the best film out of the sequels. The film offers some of the best action sequences in the franchise, including one fight scene featuring Alice and Jill Valentine, a fight that fans waited years to see.
“Resident Evil: Retribution” also adds some humorous notes to the film, something lacking from the previous films. Alice finally gets the chance to let loose with a few one-liners, which is a nice change of pace from the stoic expression she wore on her face in other films. Though the film suffers from a few pacing issues and some of the actors are less than stellar, “Resident Evil: Retribution” is a film that will appeal to fans of the franchise and fans of sci-fi and action films.