Review: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
Style over substance is a common cliché in many a film review; an often over-used description for many film justly or unjustly tagged with this derogatory term.
Unfortunately for this latest computer game-based instalment of the popular zombie franchise, director Paul W.S Anderson takes this tried-and-tested term to extremes.
I can’t say I am totally surprised; firstly because the Resident Evil films ran out of steam a long, long time ago – the later instalments have an overwhelming feel that inspiration in the script department faded drastically after Resident Evil: Apocalypse; but secondly, the filmography of the British-born director Anderson reads like someone’s shortlist for a Top 10 worst films of the last two decades nomination.
Retribution begins at the point where the previous instalment finished, on the Umbrella Corporation’s ship Arcadia, but quickly moves into a virtual, globe-trotting experience for our protagonist, Alice; who once again, isn’t sure exactly what’s happening around her. The problem is, neither do we, the viewer at times, as rather confusing and often absurd situations arise which do nothing for the film’s pace or desperate attempt to grab at the elusive plot.
Anderson makes a pushed-to-the-limits attempt to develop the plot from the previous instalments, but it quickly becomes clear that this attempt goes only as far as very loose, sometimes insignificant twists and turns that do nothing other than move the story from country to country, followed by increasingly bigger action scenes that do nothing for long periods other than look impressive. Zombies seeming to come out of the woodwork with varying degrees of intellect, size and strength, followed by our band of heroes walking around looking for answers while the backdrop switches once again from continent to continent in true James Bond fashion, before more zombies appear looking slightly different than before…and you get the idea!
It appears that the director has taken a leaf from many a classic science fiction film in the concept for Retribution – those familiar with Westworld will see the resemblance to the 1973 Michael Crichton film, while Inception and Blade Runner also feature heavily in Anderson’s conscience, and Alien and Alien 3 were certainly inspirations while some of the beasts were being developed.
While some of these zombies and action sequences without doubt look impressive, the visual aspect appears to be the only remaining reason for this ever-increasing run of films. If we weren’t in any doubt before now, Retribution confirms that there is nothing left to offer from the Resident Evil adaptations; I suppose this is confirmed by the fact that the last two instalments have been offered in 3D – a gimmick for getting theatre seats filled, while offering little other than impressive imagery.
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W. S. Anderson <
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Kevin Durand, Sienna Guillory, Shawn Roberts, Aryana Engineer