One has to know what type of movie your going into when you walk into Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth part of Paul W.S. Anderson’s adaptation of the zombie survival video game. Essentially it is going to be wall to wall action, zero-to-none character development, and Milla Jovovich prancing around in near-S&M gear. I could essentially end the review here, the film won’t be any deeper than that but, as far as bad action movies go, the Resident Evil franchise has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. So I will indulge a bit more.
For starters, like all of its predecessors Resident Evil: Retribution opens where we left off in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Alice (Milla Jovovich) and the inmates she rescued in the last movie, were in a ship en route to some safe heaven; the ship was attacked and there is where this film opens. To be honest, this opening sequence is the high point of the film; Anderson decided to run the entire action scene backwards and in slow motion. Why? Who knows, but it looks cool, and it lets us indulge in the cheesiness of staged action in a new, and somewhat lovely, way. Yes, lovely.
Like every sequel in the RE franchise, it forgets the previous movie existed five minutes in, and Alice finds herself in a new situation, fighting new mutant-zombies, and once again antagonizing the Umbrella Corporation. This time around, Alice finds herself in gigantic-warehouse basement where Umbrella has built replicas of four or five major cities, a suburb and a submarine base to test out zombie outbreaks. The facility also happens to be underwater, under ice, and under Russia; because where else would an evil corporation build such a facility?
So Alice find herself in this facility and in her escape she meets the clone of a deaf girl (Aryana Engineer) who has been implanted with fake memories, thinks Alice is her mother and decides to tag along. Endangering Alice - who for no apparent reason starts caring for the clone - and the rescue team who is here for Alice. The idea of clones has been explored in the franchise before, and for all we know the Alice in this film is not the Alice from the first film. In this film Anderson uses the clones as an excuse to bring back Michelle Rodriguez (whose character is apparently named Rain but I don’t believe they ever mention it once in the film). And there is not one but two clones of Michelle! But despite the fact that one is nice and the other is evil we never get to see Michelle Rodriguez fight herself. I find it hard to believe no one in the production thought this would be cool.
The film also brings the characters Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), and Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) to the screen. And Jill Valentine, now an evil bitch, sports her fetish gear from Resident Evil 5 and blonde hair. They all look amazingly like their video-game counter parts. Yet, the video game counterparts have much more depth and character. I kid you not when I say the most complex piece of dialogue is “You are all going to die down here” blurted out by the Red Queen - who if you remember from the first film is an AI program with a sadistic complex.
All in all it is safe to say that the Resident Evil franchise has been getting simpler, sillier, and stupider per installment. The fun level seems to have plateaued and it won’t be long before my appreciation of women in fetish gear kicking ass won’t be enough to actually make me sit through one of these films. All in all, even for a movie of its kind, Resident Evil: Retribution is kinda mediocre.