Resident Evil: Retribution

Alice (Milla Jovovich) is once again in the clutches of the Umbrella Corporation.  Her former friend and ally Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) is under Umbrella’s control thanks to a device attached to her chest.  Jill is head of security and questions Alice for the artificial intelligence that now runs what’s left of Umbrella, the Red Queen.  When the power unexpectedly goes out Alice is able to escape into what appears to be downtown Tokyo (but is an artificial environment), but a sudden outbreak of zombies forces her to go back inside where she encounters Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), an assassin who worked for Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts).  Wesker is the one who cut the power and is now appearing on video screens in the Umbrella facility.  Wong says neither she nor Wesker works for Umbrella anymore and they are actually trying to get Alice out to help with the fight against the zombie plague and the giant corporation.  Wesker tells Alice a team of his operatives are breaking into the facility, which used to be a Soviet submarine base, and includes her old friend Luther West (Boris Kodjoe).  Alice reluctantly agrees to help her former enemies but she must cross the massive underground compound that is a research and development facility crawling with well-armed security forces, mindless, flesh-eating zombies and other monstrous creatures.

This is the fiftieth, I mean, fifth installment in the “Resident Evil” series of movies, based on the Capcom video games.  I left out a ton of plot points because the story is rather complicated and doesn’t matter anyway.  The slapped together plot is merely an excuse to stage overly long gunfights between disposable sets of characters (who all have programmable clones) and to display various zombies and CG monsters.  It all grows pretty tedious after the first few minutes.  
If you’ve seen one “Resident Evil” movie you’ve pretty much seen them all.  They occasionally try to throw in a few tricks by giving Alice some kind of unique ability, like telekinesis in “Resident Evil:  Extinction,” and by bringing back characters who were killed in earlier installments (that’s where the clones come in).  Michelle Rodriguez and Obed Fehr return for this chapter.  I guess for hardcore fans of the movies, these tidbits make coming back to each sequel worth it.  For the casual fan or someone looking for something different to see in the theatre, it’s a massive mess.
The story structure is painfully predictable with the conflict between Alice and Umbrella or one of their lackeys set up early on and the inevitable appearance of zombies or some variation of mindless killing creature following soon after.  There are several fights, both gun and fist, regularly spaced though the films’ midsection with at least one car chase.  The most difficult and dangerous battle is always the last where Alice suffers the most injury but manages to win in the end.  Such is the case here.  A small effort has been made to give Alice some humanity by introducing a child that thinks the warrior is her mother.  It works mostly as a complication that distracts Alice from the mission at hand and leads to the deaths of various supporting characters, also a painfully common device.
Lazy storytelling aside, the acting is stiff and amateurish.  No one in the cast looks like they are trying that hard and none of the actors stand out.  It’s like watching a high school performance of “12 Angry Men” where everyone puts forth the effort but no one is very good.
“Resident Evil:  Retribution” is rated R for sequences of strong violence throughout.  There’s lots of shooting and fighting with lots of blood splatter.  Foul language is surprisingly limited but there isn’t much dialog in general.
“Resident Evil:  Retribution” is another in a long line of subpar video game-based movies.  Perhaps there’s just something about the genre that doesn’t translate from the console to the screen, but I doubt that.  What it takes to make a good or great movie of any genre is a good story, good dialog and characters who the audience will want to follow and learn more about.  That’s all pretty much non-existent in this film.  It’s too bad there isn’t a “Reset” button to push and try again.  Or course, there’s always the inevitable sequel but in my mind, it’s “Game Over.”
“Resident Evil:  Retribution” gets one guitar out of five.
With five new films hitting theatres this week, I hope at least one will be a better experience.  Vote for the next film I see and review.
Dredd—In a post-apocalyptic America, the only force of order lies with the urban cops called “Judges” who possess the combined powers of judge, jury and instant executioner.  The most feared is called Dredd.
End of Watch—Young Los Angeles police officers Taylor and Zavala patrol the city's meanest streets of south central Los Angeles.  When they become too good at their jobs they are targeted by ruthless drug gangs.
For a Good Time Call—The reserved Lauren and the irrepressible Katie are polar opposites.  When both come up short on the funds needed to afford their dream New York City apartment Lauren discovers that Katie is working as a phone-sex operator and recognizes a good business opportunity.
House at the End of the Street—Seeking a fresh start, a newly divorced mother and her daughter find the house of their dreams in a small, upscale, rural town. But when startling and unexplainable events begin to happen, they learn the town is in the shadows of a chilling secret.
Trouble with the Curve—A cranky old baseball scout must accept the help of his estranged daughter as his eyesight fails and his livelihood is in jeopardy.
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any film currently playing in theatres.
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