Resident Evil: Retribution
Starring Milla Jovovich, Sienna
Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez
It would be one thing if these movies were engaging, cerebral affairs that challenged an audience. “The Resident Evil” films are the polar opposite—idiotic, hyperactive cartoons more likely to kill brain cells than stimulate them. I found myself strangely fascinated with the latest one, which seems so bereft of new ideas that they are forced to bring back long-dead characters as clones straight out of the sci-fi cliché playbook.
The series started out innocently enough: Based on a popular video game, the movie follows the story about a team of soldiers investigating an evil corporation that is experimenting with a virus to reanimate the dead. An evil computer program basically decides to unleash havoc on the human race—survival horror blended with a lot of guns being fired. It isn’t great, but it isn’t a complete tragedy. Yet, somehow this innocuous action film has inspired four sequels. Never has a series with such meager roots snowballed into so many mediocre movies—except for “Police Academy,” especially the ones after Guttenberg bailed.
I thought the entire “Resident Evil” series would fade into oblivion without anyone noticing. Then, studios started making every film 3D. Suddenly, they’re back and transformed from C-grade garbage to poorly conceived 3D pulp—the kind of movies that back in the day we would have watched on late-night television with a pair of glasses from a local pizzeria. This is not the kind of high-profile marquee release; they’re train wrecks. And with the added 3D ticket surcharge, the entire experience almost feels insulting.
As I mentioned, I’ve become morbidly fascinated by these disasters. They always contain the same basic elements. There’s a formula employed in each film, so obviously charted, it could be on rails. Number one, a scantily clad Milla Jovovich. This part, I’m fine with; Jovovich is wonderful eye-candy who believes acting requires her to be bug-eyed and look perpetually surprised even when the same things happen around her.
To be fair, “scantily clad” aptly describes most women in “Retribution.” The only women that exist in this universe are big-breasted ones, prone to wear outfits that should make combat difficult: skin-tight bodysuits with exposed cleavage and ensembles cribbed from S&M clubs. I’m not sure how one rattles off gunshots and roundhouse kicks in an ankle-length dress and a push-up bra, but I’ll be damned if they don’t try.
In “Retribution” the endlessly suffering protagonist Alice is captured and trapped in a subterranean arctic base where, once again, the evil Umbrella Corporation is seeking profit from virus testing that involves cloning … for science reasons … or something. Stupidly simple and inert, the evil company has a very strange business model: Develop evil viruses that do terrible things to people. Throughout “Retribution” we’re told the evil computer that runs Umbrella wants to wipe out humanity. Now, I didn’t major in business—nor am I any kind of computer science guy—but where is the profit in wiping out civilization as we know it? It has the business acumen of underwear gnomes.
Any how, in order to escape, Alice must band together with a bunch of gun-wielding, steroid-abusing action stereotypes and shoot their way through 10 million undead zombies. Slow-motion action shots run rampant here. Every action scene seems to take place at half speed. So much so if the filmmakers removed any slo-mo from the movie, it would probably end up being 20 minutes long. Thanks to the third dimension, we get to see bullets flying at a snail’s pace toward the screen, like an overworked gimmick from Monster Chiller Horror Theatre.
Hot women in slutty outfits. Slow motion. 3D visual shenanigans. That pretty much describes “Resident Evil: Retribution.” Five movies in, I still have no idea what the hell is going on. The movies never end so much as abruptly tumble into a cliffhanger that has no meaning. However, I do think I’ve figured out why they subtitled the movie “Retribution.” It’s the feeling emanating from everyone involved when exiting the theater.