Resident Evil : Retribution (2012)

Like a series of increasingly more ridiculous animated music videos, Resident Evil: Retribution is just a string of CGI-heavy action sequences that literally do not matter. You’d think Hollywood would’ve learned from the failings of Sucker Punch, which was all action and no heart, but producer / writer / director Paul W.S. Anderson has taken it a step further by also making the fifth instalment in his rapidly deteriorating franchise madly confusing and wholly pointless.

For anyone new to the Resident Evil film franchise it will be horrendously confusing to the point of screaming frustration, but luckily the newcomers will not be alone as even die-hard (and ever-suffering) followers of the film franchise will be utterly fucking baffled by the plot.

So what is Resident Evil: Retribution actually about? Okay, deep breath…

Our protagonist Alice (Milla Jovovich) ended the last film facing an army of Umbrella soldiers led by her old friend and metal-scarab-possessed Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). Confused yet? Well that’s just the end of the last film, so be prepared.

Yeah, so facing insurmountable odds, how the heck does Alice get out of this one?!

She doesn’t.

Alice is immediately caught and transported to some random undersea facility for… erm… well… Yeah. I have no idea what they want her for. Experiments? Testing? As a prisoner? To blast her with really annoying noises?

Plot-wise it appears Alice is simply captured by Umbrella so she can spend AN ENTIRE FILM trying to escape their undersea base.

Yes, Resident Evil: Retribution is literally one long escape attempt, which in any other movie would’ve lasted about ten minutes (30 minutes max in even the most audacious of Bond movies). Here it lasts for 96 minutes and it’s excruciatingly tiresome because of it. Worse still, Anderson saves the dullest and most generic action scene for last, with an elongated bout of snow-bound fisticuffs that lasts waaaay too long. This is mainly because we have no investment in any of the characters AT ALL so the outcome of the fight literally doesn’t matter.

Despite all this, the film would probably be only 17 minutes long if every other second wasn’t in ‘mind-blowing slow-motion’ and we weren’t panning back from every single scene to show how big and beautiful all that expensive CGI is.

At times, however, you feel quite thankful it’s 98% action as the actual dialogue is utterly, laughably terrible. It’s either woeful quipping or po-faced exposition, both delivered with zero passion. It makes the script for Battleship look like The Godfather.

As usual Anderson shows he has a flare for the spectacular with some amazing visuals (all CGI) but – conversely – he also has a flare for delivering the spectacularly bad. The action sequences are awe-inspiring, varied and utterly bonkers, but most of the time they make little to no sense. Why are there Outpost-style undead soviet soldiers?! Why does the giant Licker-beast have a Xenomorph-style nest now? How is Michelle Rodriquez still alive?!

Yes, like every Resident Evil film before it, Anderson treats the fans of the games and movies with absolutely no respect. Thinking the fanboys (and girls) only want to see a collection of recognisable characters from the computer games and previous films – jammed together and beating shit up – our man Anderson has plopped in Albert Wesker, Jill Valentine, Ada Wong, Barry Burton, Luther West, the Red Queen, the giant axe dude, the parasites and even the long-dead characters played by Oded Fehr, Colin Salmon, Michelle Rodriquez, inexplicably made into evil clones.

Anderson even has the audacity to dump in a ridiculous version of Leon Kennedy too, freshly played by Johann Urb, whose absurd hair looks like someone’s dumped a hairy octopus on his head.

Conspicuously absent from the entire film are two of Resident Evil’s major protagonists (in both game and movie form), that of Claire and Chris Redfield, presumably missing because Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller valued their careers / read the script and ran away, screaming. It’s a bizarre move, though, because these deeply important characters simply disappear after Resident Evil: Afterlife and no-one mentions them.

You know your director has literally no idea what he’s doing when the little deaf girl covers her ears during a gunfight (even though – interestingly enough – she’s actually hearing-impaired in real life).

There are so many blitheringly idiotic plot-holes that you’ll give up caring after twenty minutes and if you don’t walk out of the cinema before the end then you’re either asleep or dead. It’s such a horrible waste of your time.

It is such a shame considering Anderson can actually do great work. I love Event Horizon and Death Race is genuinely great fun. If he could’ve injected some of the scares, action and character from these films he might’ve avoided ruining the memory of a brilliant computer game franchise that truly shaped my childhood and – essentially – my love of horror.

On a positive note, Milla Jovovich gives another sterling performance, really slamming everything she has into a role that deserves much less. The rest of the cast, however, clearly do not share her enthusiasm and pay-check their way through the movie. Colin Salmon is especially embarrassing as his five lines are delivered with boredom and (SPOILER!) when he’s eventually killed Colin actually seems quite pleased…

Okay, so if you loved the previous Resident Evil films then you might stand a chance of not hating this one (so check it out!) but if – like me – you thought the first one was surprisingly enjoyable and the rest were progressively more and more awful, then don’t even bother with this one. It’s utterly pointless.

They’ve re-booted Halloween, Batman and Spiderman recently, so for the love of God just end the Paul W.S. Anderson franchise and start Resident Evil afresh. Please. I don’t think I could stand seeing Resident Evil 6 arrive in cinemas. Seriously. I’m begging you! Santa, Jesus, Buddha, Sony Pictures – anyone! – please make this dream come true.

Kill this fucking franchise.

Resident Evil 5: Retribution is a plotless explosion of CGI nonsense. Despite some thrilling moments and stunning visuals, Paul W.S. Anderson’s opus is a shockingly dull mess that even die-hard fans will struggle to sit through. For true film-masochists only, this is a painfully bad blockbuster.

Oh yeah, and it’s in 3D.

Rating: ★☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆☆

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