Sunday, October 14, 2012

Resident Evil: Retribution

Being a pretty big fan of the Resident Evil film series it’s safe to assume that I was extremely excited about the release of the newest entry in the franchise, Resident Evil: Retribution. I adore the first film, despise the second, enjoy the third and really like the fourth regardless of its no plot having ass. The cliffhanger at the end of the last film, Afterlife, left me salivating for the answer as to how the characters were going to get out of the epic pickle they found themselves in.  So was the 2 year wait for the payoff worth it? I give a very enthusiastic “HELLZ YEAH!”
Picking up exactly where the last flick left off, but shown in reverse, Alice (Milla Jovovich) battles the hordes of Umbrella attack choppers as best she can. Unfortunately she is hit by the shockwave of a crashing airship and is thrown from the Arcadia into the ocean. She awakens in yet another Umbrella lab run by her old friend-turned-evil assassin Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) who has unknown plans for her. She manages to slip her captor only to learn she’s in a massive underwater testing facility complete with replica versions of entire cities, such as Moscow, Manhattan and Tokyo. It’s here she meets up with evil assassin-turned-new friend Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) who is working for turncoat Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and needs Alice to escape the facility with a “weapon” to fight the hordes of undead mutants that are taking over the planet. Along her journey she faces off with resurrected pals Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), One (Colin Salmon) and Carlos (Oded Fehr). She also teams up with old friend Luther (Boris Kodjoe) and his strike team led by Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand) to return to the surface and attempt to take back the planet.
I was hoping that we would finally get some sort of explanation as to what was going on in Afterlife here, and we get that and more. Why were there giant hooded creatures with massive axes? Why to the zombies have tentacles coming out of their mouths? Why are they suddenly able to run like Olympic athletes? What is that spider robot thing attached to all these people’s chests? Who’s running Umbrella? What happened to Jill Valentine? It’s all answered here and satisfactorily at that. I won’t ruin the surprises.

Milla Jovovich shows yet again that she was born to be an action heroine, and here we get to see yet another side to her that gives her already sufficiently developed character another interesting layer. She handles her action scenes and dramatic scenes with ease and I hope she continues to impress in the years to come. Most of the other cast here is serviceable at best, doing what they have to and not much more. As excited as I was to see Michelle Rodriguez return to the franchise I have to say she really wasn’t given much to do except look bad ass and act like a ditz (you’ll have to see it to believe it). The return of Sienna Guillory is welcome, but she is given a handful of clunky lines and isn’t given any further development at all. The same goes for the supporting cast. And a word to the wise… Shawn Roberts is one of the worst actors of all time! Stop giving him work!
Crazy and massive action scenes like the zombie tunnel fight, Axemen battle and the overlong Alice vs. Jill catfight are the name of the game here folks. It’s this film’s raison d'être and I’m not complaining. Writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson pulls out all the stops and yet again shows off his keen eye for awesome visual spectacle and brutal ass kicking. His dialogue skills still leave something to be desired and some events are a little convenient, but his action driven plot is constantly pushing forward like a freight train with little time to catch your breath. I’m also glad he went back to the beginning of the series to start bringing the story full circle.  I haven’t been this consistently entertained by one of his films since Death Race.

I also have to give props to returning composers Tomandandy. Their industrial infused score to Afterlife still gets playtime on my iPod, and their sophomore effort here lends the proper amount of energy to the proceedings. It was also nice to finally get some sort of musical continuity in this series for a change. Their amped up versions of the “Tokyo” and “Axeman” themes used here were pretty rad.
This film is truly epic in its scope, with massive action scenes taking place in multiple international locations, armies of zombies and creatures, martial arts mayhem and one truly awesome cliffhanger that I hope leads into the final chapter of this uneven saga. It’s not going to win any awards, but if you want a thrilling, supremely entertaining film to tide you over until The Avengers 2, I highly recommend checking this bad boy out.

4 out of 5

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