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Resident Evil: Retribution Review: They Say Jump And You Say How High, You're Brain Dead, You Got A F*ckin' Bullet In Your Head

By TK | Film Reviews | September 17, 2012 | Comments ()


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Oh, Paul W.S. Anderson. You just don't know how to get out of your own way. Ten years ago, you made a decent little sci-fi flick in Resident Evil, a film that created the unique character of Alice (Milla Jovovich) and dropped her into the universe created by Capcom's video game. Then, you made a sequel that barely made sense. Then another. Then another. And then, you made the fifth entry, Resident Evil: Retribution, a film that is so splendidly, wonderfully inept that it's simply a marvel to behold, a monument to cinematic idiocy and irrelevance.

The plot of Resident Evil: Retribution is inconsequential, but we need to fill some space, so here goes: It picks up immediately after Afterlife, when Alice ended up on a tanker ship filled with people after fighting the evil Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), as it was being attacked by a bunch of fancy high-tech helicopters led by a brainwashed Jill Valentine (played listlessly by Sienna Guillory's cleavage). Alice ends up knocked out and wakes up in a big white room, escapes from the big white room with the aid of Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), who is working for Wesker but is helping her because there's a whole thing that you won't care about anyway so let's not bother.

Anyway, they're actually in a giant underwater facility in Russia somewhere that has a bunch of simulated environments of places like Moscow, New York, Berlin and... um... suburban USA for some reason. And they have to fight their way through these environments to rendezvous with another group of fighters for some reason or other. There are zombies and giant ax-wielding super zombies and guys in overcoats and gas masks who never use gas and car chases and big monsters rocket launchers and then there's a big one-on-one fight and then a cliffhanger ending. Oh, and a little deaf girl who thinks Alice is her mother and I just want to lie down for a little while, if you don't mind.

The film, using all manner of cheap plot devices, brings back almost everyone from the earlier entries. Luther (Boris Kodjoe) somehow survived the big ship attack from Afterlife, Jill is alive because there's a robot spider gnawing on her breasts, and through the marvels of cloning Alice has to fight off new models of Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Carlos (Oded Fehr), and Shade (Colin Salmon). And as usual, Anderson tries to shoehorn in new characters from the convoluted video game series, even when they have no relevance or connection. This time around it's a dazzlingly terrible performance by Johann Urb as Leon Kennedy and the typically underused Kevin Durand as Barry Burton.

None of this matters, because there's no logic or subtlety or even an iota of intelligence to Resident Evil: Retribution. In fact, there isn't even any retribution. AT ALL. Not only that, but the film's tagline is "Evil Goes Global," which is fantastic considering that the entire film takes place in a single building 300 feet under a sheet of ice in the Russian polar desert. So, not so much with the "global" part either. There's the barest whisper of a story, but really it's just a 90 minute excuse to have Milla run around in tight, impractical outfits and kick, shoot and punch things. The dialog was written using the Random Cliche Generator 3000™, including gems like "I've got this!" and "I'm running a bypass!" and "Let's do this!" peppered with nonsensical revelations about the evil Umbrella Corporation that no one cares about because Anderson has no idea how to get his audience even slightly invested in his characters. The performances are almost trance-like in their woodenness, making you wonder if Anderson dopes his cast with Xanax and then never films more than one take. Even Milla has lost her zest, hoarsely mumbling her way through the forgettable and derivative dialogue without even a hint of life in her eyes.

The beauty of all of this is perfectly demonstrated in the final reveal -- guess what?! There are more bad guys, and they're coming! That's the Resident Evil franchise: Alice wears tight clothing, beats the punchfuckening out of a bunch of live and dead bad guys, makes friends, loses friends, is confronted with the big bad, and then learns there are more big bads coming, roll credits. We've done this five times now, and it certainly appears like we're headed for a sixth. Let me save you some trouble: Don't. Just don't. With any of them. They get worse and worse with each entry, and as hard as it is to believe, Retribution is without question the worst of the lot. It's a bland, boring, repetitive series of explosions and screaming and bravado and kicksmashering and poorly shot wire-assisted flipperoos and then, there's an ending in the sense that there are credits on the screen after something stupid happens and then I was back home. But none of it matters. You'll just feel bored and tired, like I feel right now. And no movie should have that effect on you. Ever.



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Comments Are Welcome, Jerks Will Be Banned


  • Danny

    hah hah! Alice as cosplay

  • dsoup

    Surprisingly the movie passes the Bechdel test. The leads are all female - they talk to one another about stuff other than a guy, they all have names - 2 of them have first and last names. And they kill. So.go.Alice.go.

  • Salad_Is_Murder

    Worst of the lot? Sounds like the best one to me! When does this see general release?

  • The Heretic

    The way I see it, the Resident Evil films are solid action films, but their escalation & ridiculousness puts them above the standard action fare.

    Each film ups the ante: first film is the RE game that happens in a base under some mansion. The ending starts at the destruction of Raccoon City. The sequel has Jovovich fight through the Umbrella quarantine and escape the city. The third film shows a post-epidemic, Mad Max type, world where survivors are fewer than the zombies. That film closes with a bunch of Jovovich clones assaulting some Umbrella building.

  • Clancys_Daddy

    So it was good then?

  • DeistBrawler

    Sonofabitch. I thought from your post on facebook that you actually liked it.

    I agree with you here 100%.

  • MissAmynae

    I'll gladly pay my 8 bucks to see Oded Fehr in anything. or nothing at all.

  • Slash

    I seriously thought (from just the ads) that this movie was the last movie being rereleased in 3D (apparently doing that is a thing now). I didn't see the last movie, so that isn't as stupid as it sounds. And not nearly as stupid as this movie sounds. Well, the series has employed Milla+expendable cast plus a bunch of special effects people, so it's not entirely a waste.

  • Wembley

    TK-You're just incapable of experiencing joy aren't you?

  • Aeryn

    Ahhhhhhhhh I was so looking forward to this story mainly for Carlos and Rain. Still going to see it. It is just addictive that way. I kinda lost track of the storyline after the first one. hahaha. Plus Milla wouldn't have a gig she could count on until after she kills the zombies in her nursing home.

  • TheEverGuest

    I learned this lesson at age 10 with the Land Before Time movies. Your loyalty only ensures you'll be taken for granted.

  • Groundloop

    In a world of flux, change and uncertainty, I take solace in the fact that the latest entry in the Resident Evil franchise is just as shitballs retarded as I expected it to be. This says nothing good about me, but in their nonsensical repetition, these movies are a comfort, like celluloid milk and cookies. The difference being, I'll pay for milk and cookies. The Resident Evil movies are best watched streaming on Netflix, where it's next door to free.

  • Eddie

    No way, I want this train wreck going as long as possible. I have watched each installment, in the theaters no less, just to see where Anderson goes with it next. He's like a toddler with legos. Fuck the instructions, he's just going to build whatever he wants and make his own story about it. Yes Paul, that pile of haphazardly put together blocks is indeed a mech fighter. I can't wait for RE X: Retri-After Nemesis, where they fight space zombies on the moon.

  • lowercase_ryan

    that's how I played with Legos. Fuck staying in the lines.

  • bump

    I'm going to admit here that I loved the previous four films. The first was an interesting, albeit ridiculous, take on the game franchise, and I think it captured the spirit of the games (puzzles, cheesy dialogue and zombie ass-kicking) better than most adaptations. Then the sequels were a fun mix of developing the main nonsensical story and dropping in elements for fans of the series (although the bird-exploding powers from 3 were admittedly insane). The fourth even had some great use of 3-D and was perfectly paced to hold your attention while dazzling you with pretty visuals, having abandoned any logic or sense.

    But THIS film. Oh sweet Jesus. It was like 20 real-time minutes of pure nonsense filmed in aching slow motion and stretched into what felt like four hours of horrendous fan fiction. The basic principles (back to the basics of an Umbrella lab, various simulations, rogue security system) had promise, but the whole thing just came together horribly. Huge set pieces were ruined by boring action, all of the acting was laughably awful (with a special shout out to Sienna Guillory for sucking more ass than a donkey's fluffer)... and worst of all it just wasn't even FUN. Ugh.

    Between the magic map glasses, Michelle Rodriguez's random super x-ray bone crunching powers, and special guest star Newt from Aliens, I just despair.

  • bump

    Oh and the dialogue:
    "Made a simulation of New York, sold it to the Russians" (US is still at war with Russia now??),
    "Made a simulation of Moscow, sold it to the Americans."
    "Made a simulation of Tokyo, sold it to the Chinese"
    "Made a simulation of Beijing, sold it to the Japanese"
    This could have gone on all day.

  • Carlito

    Made a simulation of a movie, sold it to Sony.

  • Zuffle

    I love you, Carlito.

  • TK

    Perfect.

  • emmelemm

    Eh, I liked it.

    The blatant Aliens ripoff was, well, blatant. But if you're going to steal, you might as well steal from the best.

  • Do you think there's someone in the world who thinks that Paul W. S. Anderson and Paul Thomas Anderson are the same person? I hope there is. I really hope there's a person with this inexplicable mystery swilling around in their head - that someone could be simultaneously so talented and so egregious. I really hope they're walking around at dinner parties where people talk about films, and little accidents of sound - a truck driving past the window, a plate falling - keep preventing them from hearing the 'W.S.' or the 'T' so that they are constantly, painfully befuddled, and that it drives them to taking the lift up and to the brink of jumping out of a high rise window, only for them to step out onto the ledge and see two separate billboards advertising two different releases by the two directors, and they read it and understand and suddenly everything aligns - like a completed Tetris row their whole consciousness blinks with ecstasy, and they stumble back inside and onto a nearby sofa and there they lay, twitching and smiling contentedly at a world that suddenly and retrospectively makes a whole fuckload more sense.
    And then they jump out of the window anyway as they realise that there's a film maker whose entire output consists of Resident Evil movies and is unmitigated by There Will Be Blood and Boogie Nights.

  • BlackRabbit

    The movie only needed three things to be great: A plot, actors, and good effects. It had one, in that the makeup and CGI stuff were pretty decent. Everything else was craptacular. Actually, I'll go one further: I defy anyone to name something new, innovative or interesting in this film.

  • Jezzer

    Mila's left boob is slightly perkier in this one.

  • BlackRabbit

    Ok, yes that was slightly something, I'll grant you. And Michelle Rodriguez was obviously having fun in her fights. Still, not much. And I also wonder how much of the director's fantasy life gets put on the screen. Those weird little sheet-shirts she wears in the labs?

  • Strand

    I found the first Resident Evil movie off-puttingly bad (and yes, I watched it as a teenage boy a decade ago) and simply never bothered to watch the sequels. Yet it seems people still pile into these movies and they're becoming more profitable with each instalment. It's mind-boggling that so many people are in this for the long haul.

    The RE franchise has now become Paul W S Anderson and Milla Jovovich's retirement fund.

  • Jezzer

    You could draw the same parallels with the Resident Evil videogames. There have been exactly three good games in the series (2, 4, and the Gamecube remake of 1), out of what seems like fifty different titles.

  • Zuffle

    Zero was wonderful. No backsies.

  • Simulacrum 1138

    Thank you so much for adding 'punchfuckening' to my vocabulary.

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    LUTHER WASN'T ON THE BOAT! Ghawl, it's like you didn't follow the end of the last one; he was separated from the group and was in a bunch of sewers, but he got away from the gross-mouthed-zombies.

    Call me crazy, though...I'm looking forward to the next one, because hopefully it will ignore the whole Umbrella Corp aspect, and get back to murdering millions of zombies.

    But you *do* have to admit that the fight scenes were bitchin'. (I have an incredible soft spot for these movies.) And the one line that nearly got me kicked out of the theatre for laughing so hard was the "I've got this." because after losing the map-guy, Milla puts on a pair of glasses, and it was cut so brilliantly that you just assume that because she put on glasses, she got smarter. BUT THANK GOD THE GLASSES WERE COMPUTER-MAP-CAPABLE.

    ...excuse me, now. I have to buy more tickets to re-watch this movie. It's too brilliant to see just once.

  • Shazza

    Thank you! When I read that line I was like, er Luther wasn't on the boat! Oded Fehr AND Boris Kodjoe AND Kevin Durant? Damn!

  • Homer: 'The sum of the square roots of any two sides of an isosceles triangle is equal to the square root of the remaining side!'

  • Jenn TheYellowDart

    Guy in Toilet Stall: "That's a RIGHT triangle, you idiot!"

  • Pinky McLadybits

    RESIDENT EVIL MOVIES ARE AWESOME! AND STUPID! But? GUNS! KICKS! ZOMBIES! Tacos? NO! NO TACOS!

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