Resident Evil: Retribution

Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring:  Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Boris Kodjoe, Shawn Roberts, Bingbing Li, Oded Fehr, Sienna Guillory

When a film is not screened in advance of its release by critics, that is usually because the movie sucks, and the studios are trying to avoid negative buzz dampening opening weekend.  Resident Evil: Retribution was not screened by critics in advance and after suffering through the film, I can understand why.

The fifth installment in the Resident Evil franchise picks up where the last one left off.  Heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) has been captured by the Umbrella Corporation.  For those of you who missed the first four films, the Umbrella Corporation is an evil company that specializes in biological warfare.  The Umbrella Corporation has developed a deadly virus that kills humans who ingest the virus and turns them into blood-sucking zombies.  The Corporation is controlled by a computer, the Red Queen. Alice is being held in the Umbrella Corporation’s secret underground testing facility.  The Queen wants to test her because she is the only human to be infected with the virus and mutate into something more powerful, instead of a mindless zombie.

Alice’s former foes Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) and Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) hatch a plot to break Alice out of the testing facility because they want her to join the last humans on Earth in a final fight for humanity.  Wesker sends in a team that includes Alice’s old friend Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) and several other militants.  They have two hours to find Alice, get to the surface and blow up the facility.  Complicating the escape are various monsters, villains, clones of past friends like Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez), and Umbrella-controlled henchwoman Jill Valentime (Sienna Guillory).

Where to begin?  Let me start off by saying that I actually have enjoyed some of the films in the Resident Evil franchise.  Milla Jovovich is fierce, and I love to see a science fiction franchise built around a strong female character.  Generally, I find something enjoyable in the Resident Evil films and they are a bit of a guilty pleasure.  However, this film is just an unmitigated disaster.  Director and writer Paul W.S. Anderson chose to write and shoot this movie exactly like a video game.  So the characters are not movie characters, but are instead video game figures who are completing various levels of a game.  Each scene takes you to a new level within the testing facility and on each level there are new targets to shoot and an even more challenging monster to defeat.  So instead of telling a story, the director just keeps tossing different action sequences at viewers at such a frenzied, confused pace that there is little time to process the film.

Moreover, the dialogue is stilted and wooden in a corny “video game” way.  The little girl who plays the Red Queen comes off as a spoiled child rather than the deadly brainchild of the Umbrella Corporation.  Sienna Guillory is also not convincingly menacing in the role of head henchwoman. The music score is overly dramatic and takes away from the action sequences. (You know a movie is bad when you can sit and reflect on how cheesy the music is).  There is very little humor in the film, and the laughs in my theater came from scenes that were not intended to be humorous.  I couldn’t even find joy in the resurrection of one of my favorite badass female characters played by the talented Michelle Rodriguez.  Disappointing.

The only bright spot is that the set up for Resident Evil 6 looks slightly more interesting than this film.  Resident Evil: Retribution earns a .12 rating.  Waste your time on this film at your own peril.