Published Sep 13, 2012Chances are, if you're considering going to see another chapter of the Resident Evil ride, plausibility, careful plotting and character development aren't pressing concerns. For those that enjoy an opportunity to indulge in a little mindless monster splattering entertainment, director Paul W.S. Anderson continues to up his game as a visual aesthetician and one of the most harmless purveyors of fun schlock around.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in Retribution's opening sequence, a downright pornographically symmetrical super-slow motion battle played out in reverse, leading back to the cliff-hanger ending of previous entry Afterlife.
Anderson demonstrates his clunky narrative instincts straightaway though, having superhuman clone Alice (Milla Jovovich) give a context-free recap of the series so far, speaking directly to the camera from a multi-video grid screen. The events of the prior film don't much matter, aside from the removal of Alice's superpowers, with the foxy, undead, mutant-pummelling heroine waking up once again imprisoned by the nefarious Umbrella Corporation and forced to battle her way free, only this time through a series of virtual test environments for T-virus outbreak simulations in major cities around the globe.
Retribution is designed as a sort of refresher course before the grand climax, recalling the entire franchise so far while setting up the pieces necessary to go out with a supernova-sized bang in the inevitable next offering. As such, it's heavy on the narrative wheel spinning, but the individual set pieces, creature effects and action choreography are the best in the series.
Anderson also applies 3D, both as a texturing agent and stunt effect, with greater aplomb than any of his horror-hound peers. What this series could really use is an injection of acting talent though. Milla Jovovich gives it her all every time, but that makes the embarrassingly stiff, soapy acting of most of her co-workers stick out like a nudist at a Furry gathering.
At least this time Kevin Durand (Lost) and Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight, Avatar) are on hand to lend a little personality, just not enough to shake the knowledge that these movies are a complete waste of time, no matter how much fun gracefully stylized carnage can be. (Alliance)