Franchise Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Written and Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson

So we are nearing the end, but Alice (Milla Jovovich) has a few more scores to settle with Wesker who is still after her, for goodness knows what reason this week!

Retribution opens exactly as we left Alice and the survivors on the Arcadia. A not inconsiderable number of Umbrella forces are bearing down on them from above under the command of a brain-washed Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). After a pretty one-sided battle, Alice wakes up, as she so often does, in another Umbrella facility. But this time it is the big one! This is where Umbrella have done all their testing for the bioweapons, using clones and massive underground reconstructions of major world cities.

Escaping from her cell with help from an unknown ally, she teams up with Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) who informs her that it was Wesker (Shawn Roberts) who set her free. Wesker no longer works for Umbrella which has been taken over by The Red Queen (Megan Charpentier) and she just seems to want to kill everyone.

Wesker has sent in a crack team to rendevouz with Ada and Alice so they can all escape together and team up with Wesker to bring the Red Queen and Umbrella down – yeah, I wouldn’t trust him either.

Obviously shit goes south very quickly and Ada and Alice encounter Axemen and goons galore as well as some familiar faces from past films. It’s almost like a greatest hits album with Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr and Colin Salmon all turning up in various guises. This is hardly surprising though, as they are all clones, but it’s like Anderson wanted to cram as much Resident Evil fan service into this film to make up for the lack of it in previous ones!

To keep the fans happy, the crack team headed to Alice and Ada includes Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) Barry Burton (Kevin Durrand) as well as Luther (Boris Kodjoe) who survived the tunnels from the last film. Yeah, I know, I’m talking about the games again, but I can’t help it. There are 3 new characters chucked in here, with Ada, Barry and Leon, all big characters from Resident Evil lore, but with no real link to the games, other than their names – this is truly just down to a bit of fan service.

Is that a problem?

Not really. I mean, who doesn’t like the idea of Barry turning up in a film?

Anyway, where were we?

Oh yeah, so Ada and Alice have to get to the rescue team while trying to avoid obstacle after obstacle that gets thrown in their way. They even pick up clone Alice’s clone daughter and resolve to save her. Chuck in some Las Plagas zombies (although, again, not really much like the ones in Resident Evil 4) and a frickin’ massive Licker and you have another chance for some ass-kicking.

Again, the plot is secondary to the action. This is very much a repeat of the first film – get out of the hive/Testing facility – and kill everything along the way. And let’s be fair, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Retribution fires on all cylinders. Anderson is just having fun at the helm and I don’t think he does a bad job of it, considering it is a fairly simple film.

We start in slow motion reverse, following Alice as she flies up out of the water back onto the Arcadia and we rewind back to the end of the last film. It then jumps forward showing us the attack, and then Alice wakes up in suburbia as if nothing ever happend. Of course this is her clone and part of the testing facility, so all hell breaks loose before we are into the film proper as the real (?) Alice escapes her cell and starts her quest.

Full. Speed. Ahead.

Restribution doesn’t let up, from a quick fight with Ada, to battling giant Axemen, fending off hordes of Las Plagas, battling familiar clones, or giant lickers, the film is just a rollercoaster of action and wears its heart on its sleeve. It isn’t trying to be anything other than an action-fest, and I am here for that. I had a blast. It isn’t high-cinema, but designed for disengaging the grey matter and just going with it.

There are flaws. Alice repeatedly winces in pain at an injury in her side, but that never really gets addressed. Her rib cage is broken around her heart in the same way as another character’s, seconds before their death, but it doesn’t seem to affect her nearly as bad, even after a subsequent kick to the chest. But, I guess, Alice has always been stubborn!

Characters are also cheap in these films. We don’t really find out what happens to the survivors on the Arcadia, what happens to Claire and and Chris Redfield? K-Mart? Where do Ada and Leon go? Not everyone turns up in the next film (sorry, I checked the cast list) so it does seem that everything around Alice is set dressing in many ways, no one else getting any chance at any sort of character development.

But what the hell, the good guys win, don’t they?

Mostly.

Some of them do escape, but only to be taken to Wesker who gives Alice back her powers as he needs her to fight the final fight for him and destroy the oncoming horde of Zombies – the end of the world is at stake and it sounds like Alice is their only hope.

Will she save the world?

There is only one way to find out!

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