After a … well, hot streak would be pushing it… after a decent streak, the Resident Evil films hit another snag with Retribution. Instead of doing another simple, self-contained story, they go crazy with franchise call backs, clones and action set pieces and forget about having even the previously simple plots they’d used before. Oh well, we’re nearly done now, so we may as well get this out of the way and move on to the finale!
Alice has been captured and wakes up in an Umbrella facility… again. She must escape the crazy-large underground base with the help of Wesker’s strike team, but it’s not just the undead that are after her… (That’ll do, the actual synopsis was complete bollocks)
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
“Barry… where’s Barry? …. Oh there he is.”
Well… some of the action set pieces were quite good. There was a car chase that was well done, and Alice actually had a few quips that made her less generic as all hell. Oh and Ada was fine, she was quite similar to her game counterpart, both in looks and voicework.
I also have to mention “Barry”. Yes, they cast someone as Barry Burton five films in, completely nothing to do with the game version, and with the exception of the beard, red vest and large magnum he pulls out at the end, he’d look nothing like him… and that made it hilarious! It was like a weedier, younger Barry was just hanging out with everyone for some reason, then he suddenly got a whole over-the-top action sequence to himself, complete with overly “cool” death. It was great fun, and so very weird…
“Hi I’m Leon, I’m here to make you look charismatic.”
Now, these RE films are normally light on the plot, but normally it actually has … something. This film? Alice wakes up in an Umbrella Facility AGAIN, and has to get out. This time the facility has recreations of chunks of New York, Tokyo, Moscow, etc, with fake skies and everything, and they’re all populated with clones. Wesker wants Alice’s help so he sends a strike team to pull her out, a team that includes film versions of Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand), plus Luther West from the pervious film… you know, the basketball player-turned celebrity, he’s now somehow not only been found and recruited by Wesker, but he’s suddenly highly skilled with guns and positioning during heavy fire… No idea how that works in-universe, but I guess Anderson really wanted the character back! Leon, for the record, is a poor actor and has extremely bad line delivery, so he’s a pretty good RE4 era Leon! (Way-hey!) Seriously though, he was obviously picked because he looked like Leon first, and acting (or lack thereof) came second.
Remember the clones of Alice from two films ago / the opening of the previous film? Well, it turns out the Umbrella strike team from the first film, plus Carlos from films 2 and 3, were also part of an Umbrella clone batch, so Retribution is full of copies of returning cast members, clearly for no other reason than this being released 10 years after the first one, I guess. It’s strange to me that Umbrella has perfected cloning on a mass scale, yet still thought the T-Virus was a better way to go with things… Speaking of Umbrella, they’re now led by the returning Red Queen computer A.I. from the first film (which I guess had a back up?) and a mind-controlled Jill, looking exactly like her RE5 self. These two opposing sides have a few long shoot outs for an hour, plus the Licker boss from RE film 1 returns, then Alice and Jill have a bit of a punch up while Leon and Luther get beat up by a copy of Michelle Rodriguez’s character from Film 1, but a copy that had injected herself with the Plagas and gained super strength and near-immortality (which is a new one…)
Two great cosplayers and the returning character squad.
This is another returning problem, as Alice, after having beaten Jill (in a fight full of weird cartoon cracking sounds every time they land a hit…) then beats the all powerful Rodriguez as well, making sure Ada (who has spent the last half hour tied up, and who also gave Alice her trademark grappling hook gun so she could use it in cool action sequences instead of herself) and Leon get soundly defeated. Got to make sure Alice is still the entire focus! Oh and Luther is killed… no loss there. Alice by this point has also seemingly adopted a small deaf girl who is a fellow Umbrella clone who had been the fake daughter of one of Alice’s clones in the facility… Yeah. Sure, why not? Well, I mean beyond the shallow attempt to add character to Alice, or tension to scenes.
The film ends once again on a cliffhanger, this time with Alice, Leon, Ada, a returned to her senses Jill and Wesker all standing on top of the White House ruins ready to fight for the last remnants of humanity. No doubt, much like the opening five minutes of this film did to the previous cliffhanger, this won’t be shown beyond a few minutes, and Alice will be the only one seen with no real mention of what happens before swiftly moving on the next thing. Alice is given her powers back by Wesker at the last moment as well, so I guess The Final Chapter is going to go crazy with the weird powers again. End like you started… or end like you eventually reached in the middle before changing you mind, in this case…?
Well, at least the effects have gotten better in the intervening ten years!
I was starting to sort of like these films, in a silly way. The last two were flawed, boy were they flawed, but they had a basic, enjoyable story to them. This was just Paul W.S. Anderson going crazy with referencing the first film and making new set pieces to fill time before reaching the cliffhanger ending. It’s so empty, filled with so many long scenes of characters just shooting machine guns at each other behind cover. I hope The Final Chapter is more like 1, 3 or 4 rather than 5… or especially 2. Jesus, don’t be like 2! I guess we’ll find out tomorrow!