Resident Evil: Retribution (Rated R) 2 Stars
Before the movie begins, a trailer for a movie due out next year called Mama makes me just about crawl out of my skin, restoring my faith in American horror movies. This is followed by the fifth sign of the apocalypse, a trailer for Battle of the Year featuring Josh Holloway and looking mind-bogglingly horrendous.
Writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson returns to the franchise, and even though I should love this series, I do not. He directed one of the best space-horror movies ever, but he has never been able to recapture that greatness, instead opting to go for style over substance productions. His films look alright, but generally descend pretty quickly into plot-hole filled nonsense.
I was concerned that skipping the last film in the franchise might render this entry a bit confusing, but Resident Evil: Retribution (95 minutes) offers a helpful recap of the last four films complete with split screen images to help catch me up. I must admit the opening credits are pretty darn cool looking, the cast names popping into view while the first five minutes or so of the film crawls by in back-wards slow-mo with plenty of distorted point-of-view shots.
Lots of militant types are jumping from helicopters to attack a ship filled with people dressed all in white. Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) is leading the attack after the Umbrella Corporation (the Big Bad of the franchise) brain-washed her at some point in the last four films. Perennial hero Alice (Milla Jovovich) faces down the attackers only to be blown off the ship and into a seeming alternate reality in which she is a suburban housewife married to Todd (Oded Fehr from Apocalypse, etc.). While behaving cutely over breakfast with their daughter Becky (Aryana Engineer) they are attacked by fast zombie-like creatures.
Aside. Everyone needs to stop categorizing the Resident Evil series as zom-bie movies. Zombies are slow moving corpses brought back from the grave in various stages of decay that hunger after the flesh of the living OR they are living humans in a state of drugged complacency who have lost free will and most of their personality. They ARE NOT speedy little suckers with slurping tentacles that shoot out of their mouths. End Aside.
Anyway, the not-zombies more than decimate the neighborhood, but Alice and her daughter are saved when neighbor Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez, who also played a character named Rain in RE) drives by and offers them a lift. They wreck, and, hilariously, Alice grabs her daughter and flees the scene without a second glance at the Good Samaritan. After a few more near escapes the scene shifts to Alice awakening in an oubliette with Jill standing high above her.
Following some naked interrogation Alice makes her escape with the assistance of a digital Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and Ada Wong (Bingbing Li). After wading her way through a few score not-zombies she finds out that she is in an underground facility designed to simulate environments around the world and peopled with red shirt wearing clones. The only question remaining is whether or not the extraction team can rendezvous with them before Umbrella Security (the Red Queen) wipes them all out.
Overall, if the movie works in any respect it is because Jovovich sells the heck out of her role and fans of the films will love this as much as the last four. Retribution sticks close to its video game origins, with slick visuals that capture the essence of the game that inspired the series and a plot that resembles the standard hack and slash walkthrough. Of course, clothing the female action heroes in either barely-there clothes complete with spiked heels or pseudo-dominatrix wear is just the regular video-game bonus.
Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.