Resident Evil: Retribution 3D movie review
At 95 minutes long, Resident Evil: Retribution should be a brisk, cheesy action movie romp full of silly references to Capcom's popular survival horror franchise. Slow motion action scenes can do wonders to make every second seem like an arduous bore, though, and this film opens with a slow motion action scene that runs in reverse.
Slow motion is also a great way to get every ounce of awkwardness out of your actors' stunt work. Retribution's opening moments feature a high-flying Jill Valentine in her best Resident Evil 5 cosplay making some pretty embarrassing attempts to look Matrix-cool. Director Paul W.S. Anderson could have hid these goofy moves through quick cuts, but opts instead to put it in extreme slow motion and 3D, so you can get a good look at every last loss of balance and sloppy shooting.
Retribution pretty much proceeds this way through to the end, with a series of contrived locale changes along the way. Our heroine, Alice (Milla Jovovich), is trapped in the biggest, baddest Umbrella corporation base of them all. Though, I'm sure there will be an even bigger one in the next movie (yep, there will be another sequel, but I'll get to that later). It also happens to be a testing facility that runs simulations of T-virus outbreaks in city centers, giving the crew an excuse to do battle in Tokyo, Moscow, New York, and a suburban neighborhood.
Speaking of that suburban neighborhood, it's worth noting that the film's best scene takes place there. Essentially a simulation full of clones, the scene has an Alice clone and her deaf daughter fighting off a horde of zombies in a scene that actually had a few good jump scares. If I didn't know any better, I'd say Paul W.S. Anderson may be better off throwing away the franchise's ridiculous lore and starting from scratch next time around.
We learn that the real Alice is also in the facility, trapped and tortured in an outfit only a pervy husband could love: two pieces of paper taped to her front and backside. The facility gets hacked, a dispenser shoots out a "badass" action movie outfit for her to change into, and from there it's one big escape scene until the end.
There's a weird sort of reverence for the Resident Evil games in these movies, and Retribution pulls out all the stops. Beyond the aforementioned Jill and Ada Wong, it has appearances by Barry, Leon, and Albert Wesker. It hits on little details like the Las Plagas zombies with their weird mandible mouths and Jill's mind control device on her chest in RE5, but then it pretty much bastardizes everything else along the way. That the plot of Resident Evil 5 is coherent and entertaining by comparison is a small miracle.
Really though, it seems just about everything going on in this movie is an excuse to put Alice in absurd action sequences. The Matrix-style fight choreography isn't really cool anymore, and the overindulgent spectacle is even worse considering there really isn't much of a plot to speak of. No real stakes means no real excitement, just a bunch of dumb stunts and things flying at the screen in 3D.
What really makes Retribution a monumental waste of time isn't all the unnecessarily slow motion, aimless plot, or embarrassing stunts, the real kicker is that the simplistic plot feels like filler because it actually is. Like an unnecessary episode in a TV series that refuses to die, Resident Evil: Retribution is actually just one big set-up for the next movie in the series. What, did you think this train wreck would end so soon?