And, to be honest, I had to look that up on Wikipedia because it feels like there have been, maybe, 15 Resident Evils. What’s kind of amazing is that, like the Step Up movies, the Resident Evil movies have steadily become, well, I hesitate to say “better.” “More entertaining” or “ka-boom-ier” might be better ways to describe it. I think it’s because the longer this thing has gone on, the more the movies just cut to the chase — literally, the zombies chasing Alice and Alice escaping in some punchy-kicky-shooty way.
For Retribution, I highly recommend getting your popcorn run and your bathroom trip out of the way before the end of the trailers, as the movie does us the favor of recapping the previous films before the action of this one gets under way. Right, you think, she doesn’t have superpowers anymore and she was on a boat. (And, considering the action-heavy, story-light format of this movie, that right there might be enough to get you going on this installment.)
Alice (Jovovich) wakes up in an Umbrella Corporation (bad-guy company) facility but finds that she has a buddy. The comically inappropriately dressed Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) arrives to help her escape from Umbrella’s lair but — get this old-school video game fans — to get out she’ll have to pass through several testing areas made up to look like different cities. Levels — let’s just call them what they are, levels. Along the way, she runs into people (or sometimes their clones) who I remember from previous movies — Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), Carlos (Oded Fehr).
In addition to the zombies and horrible mutants that are forever trying to eat Alice and company, this movie’s villain is the Red Queen (voiced by Ave Merson-O’Brien), the computer that controls the facility.
In so far as any of the characters have any kind of personality or dimension at all, it’s the female characters who matter here. This movie’s villain is sort of female (female voice, face of a young girl). Then there’s Alice, of course, but also her sidekick Ada and the Umbrella henchmen she finds herself in the most heated battles with, Jill and Rain. The men play a distant second fiddle to the women, who are in all aspects in charge (even a band of men coming to “rescue” Alice feels secondary to the story). I suspect that if you watched all the films and gave your women’s studies muscles a little workout, you could find a nice girl-positive message in all of this.
But why bother? Resident Evil movies aren’t for thinking about; they’re for enjoying while saying (or at least thinking), “Yeah! right in the gut” and “Ooo, right in the head!” They are pure kicks to the face and sprays of quarters from an automatic weapon. And, from the looks of this movie’s final scenes, they are going to keep on coming. B-
Rated R for sequences of strong violence throughout. Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, Resident Evil: Retribution is an hour and 35 minutes long and distributed by Screen Gems and Sony.