There’s no denying the success of the Resident Evil movie franchise. Four films, each earning more than the last, totaling $675 million worldwide.
There is, however, good cause to wonder why.
Based on the popular video game series, the movies are jam-packed with gunfire, Matrix-style backflip fights, and blood splatters. But they’re also a wasteland of terrible acting, ridiculously hammy dialog, and more non-sensical plot points than you can shoot a TDI Vector at.
The fifth in the series, Resident Evil: Retribution, begins where 2010’s Resident Evil: Afterlife left off, with the bad-guy Umbrella Corporation choppers attacking the oil tanker Arcadia off the coast of Alaska. (If you need to ask, you don’t need to see the movie.)
The film opens with a reverse slo-mo shootout on the tanker, followed by a handy-dandy four-movie recap narrated by our heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich), and then the opening shootout rolls again, full speed and forward.
And it’s right about then that you’ll start wondering why you paid money for this.
Turns out that Alice is trapped inside an underwater Umbrella base off the coast of Russia, but a posse is on its way to rescue her. Before that, though, she gets the help of Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) and even arch-nemesis Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) in her escape.
From there it’s a slap-dash race through simulated environments of Tokyo, suburbia, New York, and Russia, with the evil Red Queen’s soldiers, led by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), hot on her trail. And there are also zombies and giants and all manner of other big, deadly creatures.
Director and writer Paul W.S. Anderson certainly has his heart in the right place. He’s created a pretty snazzy showcase for his wife Jovovich, squeezing her into a black S&M catsuit, arming her with every kind of gun imaginable, and turning her loose to kick butt for the better part of 90 minutes. That’s all well and good (and, frankly, it’s exactly what most of the teenage-boy audience is paying to see), but would it kill Anderson to give us a little bit of a good movie somewhere in here, too?
To just mindlessly go from gunfight to gunfight to gunfight doesn’t accomplish anything. We know Alice is going to make it out, we know some of her crew will get blown to bits (or eaten) along the way, and we know that there will be a big fight scene climax at the end. Resident Evil: Redundancy may have been a more appropriate title.
Fans of the series will be glad to see some old faces return, including Michelle Rodriguez as Rain and Colin Salmon as One, but by and large Retribution is just a mindless, pointless mess: shoot, run, over-emote, repeat.