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Resident Evil: Retribution

Resident Evil: Retribution

Released 28 September 2012
Director Paul W.S. Anderson

Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr
Writer(s) Paul W.S. Anderson

Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody
Origin Germany, United States
Running Time 117 minutes
Genre Action, horror, sci-fi
Rating 15A

Alice in Blunderland.

Abandon brain all ye who enter here. Milla Jovovich returns as heroine Alice for the fifth instalment of the lucrative Resident Evil franchise, based on the popular video game series. Her hubby Paul W.S. Anderson serves as writer/director in his third outing for the franchise. As someone who has never seen a Resident Evil film, I was expecting wooden acting, plot holes galore and a general air of ridiculousness- and Retribution met my expectations with vigour. Having said that, when you know what you’re expecting, it’s far easier to enjoy a film like this over typical Hollywood fare that attempts to mask its dullness with a faux sense of greater meaning- Savages providing a recent example.

The Umbrella Corporation’s deadly T-virus has gone airborne and most of the world’s population have been turned into flesh eating undead. Meanwhile, a captured Alice awakens deep in the heart of their most clandestine training facilities where she is repeatedly tortured- before a couple of turncoats from Umbrella free her in order to escape the compound and begin the final battle for the human race. But there’s trouble afoot when a squad of drones sets out to stop her- led by Alice’s old mucker Jill Valentine, who has been brainwashed by a malevolent supercomputer called the Red Queen- personified by a creepy little girl. Luckily, this is all explained in the film’s opening scenes, but as it moves along it becomes clear that grasping the plot isn’t entirely necessary.

Roughly three quarters of the film is made up of frenetic action sequences and if there’s one thing Retribution does right it’s that it never slows down for long enough to let you grasp the absolute implausibility of it all. After an utter headache of an opening- complete with piercing sound effects, repeated computer mantras and abrasive 3D visuals- Retribution levels off and its continuous action can be somewhat entertaining if you leave your brain for dead and ignore the absurdity. Doors open when Alice needs them to, weapons appear as required and she dispatches towering abominations with relative ease- but it’s best to suspend all disbelief and try to derive some aesthetic pleasure from all the explosions and gunplay.

Regulars from the video games appearing include Leon Kennedy, Ada Wong and Albert Wesker, but they serve mostly as background fodder. Played by a host of B-movie faces, it’s video game voice acting to the highest degree- but this is Alice’s party and Jovovich gives a solid if unremarkable performance. Surely this role is second nature to her by now.

The ending serves to restart the plot and leaves an opening for the inevitable sequel- but when these things make as much money as they do, why the hell not? While there’s plenty here for diehard fans of the franchise to enjoy, as a non-believer I remain somewhat entertained but mostly unconvinced.

- Cathal Prendergast