Wednesday, December 12

Resident Evil Retribution Review

I watched on: Bluray - PS4
The price I paid: £0 (I got the Bluray box-set for Christmas)
Notes: N/A

Retribution picks up right where Afterlife left off with Jill Valentine under the control of Umbrella attacking Alice and the survivors onboard the Arcadia. The first question I asked myself about this film was simple. Why is the opening backwards? I can’t decide if it’s cool or stupid. I think it’s a case of it being both stupid and cool, which to be honest is something this series is amazing at. Alice is knocked unconscious and then we change gears. Similar to Extinction we follow a clone of our leading lady for a while. She’s within a recreation of Raccoon City that Umbrella uses to test its bioweapons. The clone Alice believes she’s a happily married woman with a husband that also happens to be a clone of Carlos from Apocalypse. They have a young daughter called Becky but of course, this happy life can’t last. The testing starts with the Raccoon City outbreak happening all over again. Becky loses both of her parents and then we cut back to our Alice.

Alice is being held by Umbrella in the same lab and with the help of Ada Wong and foe turned friend Albert Wesker has to escape the underground base. This is a familiar formula that this series has now used for every film so far. The good thing is that unlike Afterlife we once again have an amazing and enjoyable cast that make this simple plot fun to watch. Alice, Ada and Becky are assisted by a task force. Through this, we are introduced to Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton as well as Luther West returning from Afterlife. Luther is not the only character to return however with clones of Rain, Carlos and James Shade from previous films all making an appearance. This time however they are not on Alice’s side instead they’re trying to kill her and prevent her escape. I like this twist because it brings up some interesting questions such as were the characters we knew in the first film the originals or were they more clones used by Umbrella?

Once again the fight scenes, as well as the action, is over the top, ridiculous and amazing for it. I love watching Alice kick serious butt and this is one of the best films for that. The Japanese hallway fight scene has to be one of the best fight scenes I can think of. Seeing Alice take out a hoard of zombies with nothing but a handgun and a bike chain is a highlight of not just this film but possibly the series as a whole. This action is complemented by the awesome soundtrack with a rough electronic sound that works very well with the destroyed yet high-tech look of the sets and world this film finds itself in. The intelligent zombies that Dr Issacs created in Extinction are back now being called Los Plagas undead. This is obviously a nod towards the Spanish locals infected with the Los Plagas parasite in the Resident Evil 4 game. I used to hate this when I first saw this film back in 2012 but now I just think of it as the very separate film franchise tipping its hat to a great game. Retribution sees the acting take a step away from the serious and instead move towards the campy style of SyFy films and other B-Movies. This is a change in focus that when paired with the ridiculous action and plots makes a lot of sense. It only made me cringe on one occasion when Alice and Leon stand next to each other exchanging cliché lines. Besides this, I genuinely enjoyed the more silly and camp performances on display here.

While the simple plot, fun cast and amazing action here are amazing the film is not flawless. It reuses a lot of old ideas from earlier in the series. We once again see the Japanese outbreak scene from Afterlife, the laser grid from both the first film and Extinction as well as the return of the Red Queen. This is not even going into the scenes it once again rips right from the video games it takes inspiration from. 3 out of the 5 films in this series so far have used this trick and it’s one of my least favourite things about them. The action and direction are amazing and it honestly doesn’t need to pull this cheap trick. Then on top of both of these feats of unoriginality, we also see the film attempt to rip off Aliens towards the latter half. In a wonderful return to series continuity missing from Apocalypse, we see that the Licker being able to feed on fresh DNA has mutated into a huge beast. This Super Licker kidnaps Becky and carries her off to its nest where it uses some type of organic membrane to bind her to the wall. Ya, it’s not hard to replace the Super Licker with the Xenomorph Queen and Becky with Newt to get the ending of Aliens. This scene is short so it doesn’t last all too long but just knowing it’s here at all annoys me. Mostly because it doesn’t make any sense. The Xenomorphs did this because it’s how they reproduced but the Lickers spread the virus via bites and scratches. Why would it not just kill Becky outright like it did the rest of the team and zombies it encountered? The only real reason is that Aliens is cool so let’s do that.

While parts of Retribution do annoy me, for the most part, it’s a welcome return to the bonkers insanity that the series excels at. We have a good representation of a deaf character with Becky, we have multiple badass women on both sides as well as people of colour which all helps the film feel more welcoming and diverse. Once again none of the people of colour make it to the credits alive so it’s not great but it’s better than a lot of action films. All in all, while not perfect this is a film I enjoy a lot.

Recommendation Rating: 8 out of 10.

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