She's broken out by, of all people, Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), henchwoman of Umbrella head Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). It seems Wesker is no longer in charge and is in fact fighting against the corporation, now run by the artificial intelligence computer system the Red Queen, which is determined to destroy all of humanity because, well...it can? Anyway, now with a common foe, Ada and Alice team up and set out to escape from the enormous facility, which houses realistic, full-scale reproductions of major cities -- Tokyo, Moscow, New York...Raccoon City? -- through which the duo have to make their way, aided by a small commando rescue unit that arrives with some firepower.
The End Result
It goes without saying that these movies are shallow and focused on lowbrow entertainment, but Retribution is dumb even by this franchise's standards. The zombies here run, swim, drive cars and shoot guns, but somehow don't know how to climb into an attic? Alice supposedly lost her virus-spawned super powers at the end of the last movie, but somehow she's still running around kicking butt and defying gravity like she's in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (dressed, tragically, like a Michael Jackson body double). Why is the Red Queen suddenly determined to eradicate humanity when all it wanted to do in the first movie was prevent the virus from escaping, thus SAVING humanity? And how is it so easy to break into this super-secret, super-fortified facility? Maybe it has something to do with Umbrella's penchant for slapping its logo everything, including the "secret" entrance. The idiocy goes on and on ad nauseum (Why put a mind control device on someone that's so obvious and easy to remove? Why dress in tank tops and/or sleeveless, high-cut gowns for an Arctic mission? If there is an injectable "Las Plagas parasite" that can make one of the main villains invincible, why not inject all the henchmen with it too to create a super army?)
I'm sure some of these questions can be answered by something along the lines of "because that's the way it is in the games," but does that excuse the horrendous acting -- most notably Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine, whose lines come off as voiceovers from a '70s kung fu movie -- the disposable one-off storyline that doesn't further the overall plot of the franchise, or the lack of anything resembling restraint or character development? Well, maybe it does. This action-first, action-last approach is, I suppose, consistent with a video game-based film, but unlike some of the previous entries in the series (specifically, the first and third), the non-stop action becomes numbing, particularly when the set pieces lack any real originality. The series has never been overly gory, but here the (often CGI) blood spillage seems especially cartoonish and ineffective from a horror standpoint.
But Resident Evil has ceased being about horror, its zombies now little more than Storm Troopers (with equally bad aim) willing to just take a bullet or 20 for the cause. It's a shame that the biggest zombie film franchise treats it zombies so flippantly and with such little regard for its genre origins.
- Acting: F (Stiff and amateurish.)
- Direction: D (Technically proficient but cold and overblown; Paul W.S. Anderson seems to be on auto-pilot.)
- Script: F (Dumb, shallow and lacks impact on the overall storyline.)
- Gore/Effects: C- (For so much zombie chomping, there's not a ton of blood; cheesy CGI and green screen effects.)
- Overall: D- (I never thought I'd say this, but it might be even worse than Resident Evil: Apocalypse.)
Resident Evil: Retribution is directed by Paul W.S. Anderson and is rated R by the MPAA for sequences of strong violence throughout. Release date: September 14, 2012.