I have always been a fan of the Resident Evil movie franchise, and while it may have been bashed by fans of the RPG in most of the last ten years for not remaining faithful to the original storyline, I have continued to support the films. I have never played the game so for me, ignorance equated bliss. That was until the studios released Afterlife in 2010, and I began to think that the move to release a fourth movie after the trilogy was not so awesome. When Retribution, the fifth movie came out this year, it simply cemented my belief that more than quality, filmmakers are prolonging the franchise to earn a quick buck.
Retribution starts off with Alice being captured anew by the Umbrella Corporation. Now, she is being kept in a testing facility where simulations of the virus’s effect are done using thousands of clones in order for the Umbrella Corporation to demonstrate the power of the virus as a biological weapon to its potential clients, mainly countries at war with each other. Just when things seem bleak for Alice, an unexpected ally appears in the form of Albert Wesker and Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), along with the extraction team whose main mission is to pick up Ada and Alice, and destroy the facility. But as with Resident Evil, nothing is ever simple as Umbrella agents led by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and a host of other main characters from the previous movies stand in the way.
Here’s my main problem with Retribution, right from the get go. Nothing really made sense. Half of the 1 1/2 hour movie was devoted to action sequences that felt dilluted due to excessive use of slow motion, perhaps for the sake of the 3D effects. The first five minutes of the film alone was done to show off special effects, but in total made no impact to the entirety of the movie.
I had a feeling that things were starting to fall apart in Afterlife but it was not so bad. Retribution on the other hand, seemed like a betrayal of all things cool about the franchise. The scenes were prolonged, the stunts seemed too familiar, the characters underutilized, making them a faint echo of their kickass personas earlier in the franchise. Aside from the introduction of new characters ( a ploy to get fans of the game to watch the movie) like Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb), there was really nothing much of note in the entire film.
Adding to my frustration: Questions left in the balance like where Claire and Chris Redfield were taken, and what brought on Wesker’s sudden change of heart were left hanging. I just felt that if Retribution was supposed to be the transition movie to the finale of the franchise, which is rumored to be split into two parts (Heaven forbid), there should at least be a connection established to bridge the second trilogy in the series, but until the end, there was none.
All in all, there were also bright spots in the movie and it was not really horrible execution-wise. But there is no doubt that thus far, it stands as the weakest in the franchise, and sadly, it may have dimmed my love for this series. I’m not all that excited to see the next one, truth be told. Moral lesson to filmmakers of major franchises — quit while you’re ahead.