The Sci-Fi Movie So Bad It Should Have Killed The Franchise, But Didn’t

Zombies are the least of Alice's problems.

By Joshua Tyler | Published

Resident Evil: Retribution

Zombies are the least of Alice’s problems in Resident Evil: Retribution. Most franchises that make it to five movies start to run out of ideas, but if Retribution had one glaring problem when it was released in 2012, it’s that it has far too many of them.

Resident Evil: Retribution starts out as sort of a Resident Evil’s greatest hits with Alice (Milla Jovovich) reawakening yet again in the clutches of the Umbrella organization. The movie quickly invents a series of convoluted and confusing reasons for her to re-enact some of her greatest zombie battles from previous franchise entries and then proceeds to pit her against not only a rogue’s gallery of her greatest historical foes but also her most stalwart friends.

None of this makes any sense, and if you haven’t seen the five previous films, it’ll make even less. Don’t bother trying unless you’re already a serious Resident Evil fan.

Milla Jovovich in Resident Evil: Retribution

Of course, the Resident Evil franchise has never been all that focused on developing intricate plot details, and that’s always been part of the fun. Yet they may have gone too far in this one; it was here that the franchise reached a place where it’s not only impossible to figure out what’s going on, but at some point, you don’t care.

You know where this is going, why it’s going there, and what it’s going to take to get there is irrelevant. Action scenes play out in extreme slow motion and seem to drag on forever. Even the most boring scene plays out at half-speed as if they needed to pad the movie’s running time.

Though the reasons for it don’t make much sense, the best part of Retribution is the return of some of the franchise’s greatest supporting actors. In particular, at the time it was nice to see Michelle Rodriguez back on screen. We hadn’t seen her swaggering badass character since she was killed off in the first movie back in 2002. She owns every second she’s given in Resident Evil: Retribution, but there’s still all too little of her. Everything’s better with more Rodriguez.

Resident Evil: Retribution review

The Resident Evil movies have always been a great little guilty pleasure, a special-effects-laden ride through a post-apocalyptic, zombie-infested world controlled by an evil corporate empire. But there’s less pleasure than usual in this one, it never comes together as anything other than a bunch of random ideas someone threw out in the hopes that at least one of them might work well enough to make fans happy with it. None of them do, and fan or not, it’s unlikely you’ll be happy you watched Resident Evil 5.

After the giddy, extravagant success of the fourth movie, Resident Evil: Retribution was a big letdown. It’s a flat and lifeless action movie that feels like it’s mostly going through the motions.


Milla Jovovich as Alice in Resident Evil: Retribution
Milla Jovovich as Alice in Resident Evil: Retribution

Despite its poor reception Resident Evil: Retribution didn’t kill the franchise. They managed one more entry, released in 2017 before Resident Evil went full reboot.

If you’re a Resident Evil completist, you’ll probably still want to see Retribution. After all, it has Ada Wong in it. If you’re ready to watch, Resident Evil: Retribution is available to stream for free on Netflix.