Zombies are the least of Alice’s problems in Resident Evil: Retribution. Most franchises which make it to five movies start to run out of ideas by then, but if Retribution has one glaring problem it’s that it has far too many of them.
It 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.
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’s reached a place where it’s not only impossible to figure out what’s going on, at some point you don’t even really 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 it’s nice to see Michelle Rodriguez back on screen. We haven’t seen her swaggering badass since she was killed off in the first movie back in 2002. She owns every second she’s given here, but alas, there’s still all too little of her. Everything’s better with more Rodriguez.
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 walk out glad you went in.
After the giddy, extravagant success of the last movie, Resident Evil: Afterlife, this a big let down. Retribution is a flat and lifeless action movie which feels like it’s mostly going through the motions. Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to Alice and all her friends.