Resident Evil: Retribution is the fifth film in the video game spin-off series which again follows Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she battles against the evil Umbrella corporation. Again directed Paul W. S. Anderson, this film picks up right where Resident Evil Afterlife left off, on a ship full of freed human test subjects, being approached by umbrella attack helicopters led by a strangely villainous (Unless you played the game of Resident Evil 5) Jill Valentine (Sienna Guilleroy), previously seen as Alice’s ally in 2004’s Resident Evil Apocalypse.
An opening narration attempts to bring the viewer up to speed on where the series has been so far, including a recap of my favourite bit in Resident Evil: Afterlife where Alice has her ‘superpowers’ taken away, meaning she is now only as powerful as a regular Hollywood action hero, therefore pesky things like realism and even physics take a back-seat to looking cool as you dive away from explosions and immensely improbably (and again, cool-looking) martial arts.
There then follows an interesting exercise in running a whole combat scene backwards in slow motion until you get to the start then repeating it at normal speed. I actually found this quite visually interesting and a good way to show off the (suitably restrained and mostly well-used) 3D, admittedly I’m the kind of guy that finds shell casings flying back into the pistol as the slide moves interesting… your mileage may vary. In fact, that point is pretty much the crux of this review, this a decent entry in the Resident Evil film franchise, better than Afterlife, but it really won’t win over any new fans.
That said, for the fan there is plenty of fun to be had, with appearances from game characters Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) and Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), and reappearances from film characters Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) and One (Colin Salmon), both of whom were last seen zombified or err… cubed, respectively, in the first film.
The appearances of the game favourites are nothing to write home about, feeling almost like extended cameos. Given the fan love of Leon Kennedy (which I really can’t fathom), he seems like a bit of a wasted opportunity. The returning cast from the first film, and Carlos Oliveira (Oded Fehr) from the second and third films are really neatly done, in a plot twist that also gives Milla the opportunity to play a terrified housewife protecting her daughter with none of Alice’s powers, skills or even the aforementioned action-hero physics on her side. It also affords Michelle Rodriguez the chance to play against type in a really fun way.
Resident Evil: Retribution serves up giant monsters (an enormous licker to be precise), a great car chase including motorcycle zombies (yes, I know they are really Las Plagas/Majini, but zombies is close enough), a clever, if improbable whistle stop tour through Tokyo, Suburban USA and Moscow, a cool showdown between Alice and Jill and a ridiculous plot and wild character motivations that you need to accept and ride with or you’ll never enjoy the film. Personally, the Resident Evil films are a guilty pleasure and I was grinning my way through this, but you’ll probably know ahead of time if you will enjoy this.