Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson

Written by: Paul W. S. Anderson

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Sienna Guillory, Shawn Roberts

Rating: [2.5/5]

Films based on video game franchises typically struggle in their adaptation when trying to find the correct blend of the game and thread a coherent narrative. It makes sense why many fail in finding the correct balance on each end, but then you have films like Resident Evil: Retribution as it drops any pretense of being a worthwhile story but rather wants to be a feature-length video game. For as much as it could be considered a negative, it somewhat works. 

Following the horrific bloodbath on the Arcadia ship, (Milla Jovovich) finds herself at the center of the Umbrella Corporation’s newest center. Now with the help of a team sent to break her out, she must find a way to get through all of the obstacles in her way as the Red Queen returns to wreak her havoc. 

Stating a film would have been more fun to play as a video game rather than watching it feels like a backhanded compliment but very much summarizes what transpired in this 5th of edition of the Resident Evil films. A narrative with literal levels filled with simulations containing several boss battles for the protagonist to take on. All of it takes place with a more mortal Alice with the high stakes of trying to get out with the assistance of an unlikely ally. With each passing level, the difficulty gets higher leading up to quite the face off including many familiar faces. 

Simulations get introduced in this feature as the testing ground for the Umbrella Corporation to sell their T-virus to rivaling nations for the sake of war. Something fairly silly but it certainly shows Umbrella wants to truly demonstrate the quality of its product and what they sell. They certainly deserve some props for that, but in reality, these simulations ultimately present the opportunity to create some fun set pieces. It provides the chance to imagine what it would be like for Alice to take on zombies in the center of Tokyo or Times Square, which certainly brings something new to the franchise. We also get the return of the large zombie who wields an axe. You have to respect a franchise that knows what made their previous installment work and amplifies it. 

Plot becomes immaterial for this film, which would hamper most films but when it comes to these films when they attempt to integrate some sort of plot, things typically go downhill quickly. It allows for it to feel refreshing in a way seeing as it just wants to be mindless actions at all times without giving a second thought as to what it means to the larger story as a whole. This remains especially true when looking at all of the continuity errors this franchise has never cared to rectify so why start now?

As for antagonists, this feature brings back what appears as clones of other characters seen in previous films. In a sense, it was nice to see the actors return ranging from all of the preceding films with none standing out more than Sienna Guillory’s return as Jill Valentine. When the director told her to bring the shoddy acting and deliver each line like it would be her last, Sienna Guillory took it literally. It brings back an underutilized character last seen in Apocalypse and certainly has her serve as a terrible villain much like she was in the second film of the franchise. This all happens because of something put on her chest. An issue that with quite a simple resolution but the movie simply has to movie. These villains prove to be immaterial and have the thinnest writing only further solidifying the point of this film being these characters working through these levels and taking on the ultimate boss. 

With no cares whatsoever, Resident Evil: Retribution throws all caution to the wind and decides to be a video game, which I cannot begrudge it for. Sure, the plot and the characterization remain wholly stagnant but when you have Nazi zombies who suddenly know how to wield guns facing off with a group of special operatives, you just need to go on for the ride and not complain so much as you will ruin the meal. Easy to enjoy and representing a truly greasy burger that may give you stomach pains later but at the moment certainly brings some pleasure.

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