Film: Light on plot, heavy on combat

In Arts & Entertainment, Film & TV
Courtesy of MCT

By this point, nobody should expect a Resident Evil film to sweep the Academy Awards. Not a lot of people go into this type of film expecting any sort of intense emotional response or thought-provoking exercise on the meaning of life.

And that’s perfectly fine. What viewers can expect from Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth film of the series, has copious amounts of zombie killing and the same flashy, hand-to-hand combat and gunplay the previous movies have perfected, and some light plot elements to carry the action forward.

Actress Milla Jovovich assumes her role as the protagonist Alice, a former member of the evil Umbrella Corporation, whose bio-hazardous weapons have triggered a worldwide zombie outbreak.

She wakes up in an interrogation room, where former ally Jill Valentine (played by actress Sienna Guillory) demands answers as to who Alice works for and why she turned against the Umbrella Corporation in the first place.

Suddenly the security system is shut off, affording Alice precious seconds to make an escape.

Alice encounters Ada Wong, another former Umbrella employee played by actress BingBing Li.

Ada informs Alice that Albert Wesker (played by Shawn Roberts), former chairman of Umbrella Corporation and longtime series antagonist, has arranged for her escape. A strike team is sent into the underground Umbrella compound to rendezvous with Alice and escort her out.

Valentine, under control by Umbrella’s internal supercomputer named the Red Queen, is sent to stop Alice. Thus, the stage for the action is set.

The movie doesn’t put its best foot forward to begin with and only really gained traction once all the above information is explained thoroughly.

The first 15 or so minutes try to flesh out the back story of the series but ultimately it feels unnecessary.

Those who have followed the series since the beginning know what the back story is and those who have not can get their bearings pretty quickly without the movie wasting valuable time trying to lay it all out.

When the movie doesn’t spend a lot of time moving the plot forward, it feels more counterproductive to do this.

Once the actual action begins, the movie gets better. The Resident Evil series’ forte – visceral action with a splash of sci-fi – is still entertaining and satisfying.

The action itself is slowed down in a way that makes the hand-to-hand combat more hard hitting and rewarding to watch. The music suitably pulses when the action ramps up and compliments the combat really well.

Visually, the movie presents a lot of striking set pieces and locales. When the technological aspects of the Umbrella Corporation are played up, the movie shines. Suffice it to say, the Umbrella Corporation is about as twisted as it gets and the more its antics are involved, the more fun the movie becomes.

Some of the visuals are a bit inconsistent though. The Red Queen manifests herself in the form of an avatar.

Whenever she has something to say, a square box with a poorly animated girl pops up and she speaks.

Whether this is homage to the classic Resident Evil video games or just poor computer animation, it doesn’t really matter because it comes off as a little too corny and amateurish to be taken seriously.

Speaking of corny, several lines of dialogue throughout the movie are about as cheesy as they come. At one point, one of the characters screams at Alice, “I am going to get you!” Really?

In the grand scheme of things, the plotline does take a few steps forward in the Resident Evil series.

Since this is the fifth film of the series, they feel like baby steps at this point, and the ending obviously points to another installment.

It kind of makes you ask why the last hour and a half or so should even matter to you once you finish watching.

Between the plotline, corny dialogue and inconsistency, it all really just underlines what these movies are all about: the flashy combat.

In that respect, Resident Evil: Retribution is a fun, albeit unremarkable ride for those looking for a quick action fix.

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