Review: “Resident Evil: Retribution”

Some things should just stay dead.

Through five installments, the “Resident Evil” video game-turned-movie franchise has been dividing audiences more and more. The original film in 2002 introduced us to Alice (Milla Jovovich), an employee with the Umbrella Corporation (responsible for making the T-virus, which reanimates corpses). Since the first film, Alice (who is not a character from the game series) has been fighting her former employers with advanced fighting skills, machine guns and, much to the loyal fans’ disappointment, super powers.

At the end of “Resident Evil: Afterlife,” Alice and her friends are trapped by Umbrella. This film chronicles their escape from the corporation’s underwater facility. The fact that an entire 95-minute film is devoted to Alice’s escape is probably the film’s biggest fault, but more on that later.

What we’ve come to expect from this franchise is simple (sometimes non-existent) storylines and in-your-face action. With that in mind, this film delivers, moreso with the former. There is action galore throughout “Retribution,” but there are a lot of little things to take you out of the moment. It could be the mediocre direction, the way Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) sways her body back and forth when firing two guns or a host of other things. The action is fun to watch but you can’t justify a $13 ticket on a half hour of slightly above average action scenes.

In many ways, the film is just like a video game. Alice is the character a player would normally control, moving through different environments of the Umbrella facility. The film plays like the level of a game, complete with a map to let the viewer know the status of the mission. The difference between video games and film, however, is that dialogue, acting and storyline have to do more than just connect A to B. In “Resident Evil: Retribution,” most conversations only last as long as it takes to switch out a fresh clip and dozens of questions are left unanswered, skipped over in order to see the next stunt that Alice and her friends try to pull off.

To let all biases be known, I actually enjoy this franchise. I played the original game, but I can understand some of the decisions made throughout this franchise to alter the console’s storyline. This franchise is the closest equivalent I have to people who watch “The Bachelor” or keep up with the Kardashians. I know it’s trash, but it’s still entertaining. Or at least it was until this film.

At many points in this film I had to regroup in my mind and try to figure out how one character knows who another is, what this character over here’s motivation was and so forth. The script is completely nonsensical.

If writer/director Paul W. S. Anderson (and I use the term “writer/director” loosely for the man who managed to make “Alien vs. Predator” uninteresting) gets his wish and one last installment is added to this franchise, I really hope he spends more time writing that script than it takes for me to review one of his films.

Grade: D+

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