The latest film installment of the Milla Jovovich’s never ending quest to kill zombies, plays less like the video game from which it’s based and more like a techno-music video. Stylized outfits and bloody violence, and set inside a vast laboratory that alternates between pristine white-backgrounds and computer-generated cities, Resident Evil: Retribution.
This, the fifth film in the reliable franchise, knows that you neither really wanted nor needed to stay privy on what has come before, and a quick recap takes place following a pretty imaginative and impressive opening action sequence. You may really not know what’s going on for much of it, but it doesn’t matter, as we won’t go long without an undead creature jumping out at you, with some fast-paced beats following close behind so you know we’re entering an action sequence.
Alice continues to be a lab rat at the Umbrella Corporation, finding formers friends now her enemies, and former enemies her friends. Or something like that. Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, and Michelle Rodriguez return from previous films, while Bingbing Li and a quintet of macho men join in on the action for what would seem like is an excuse to run around and shoot things on camera.
It is an unfortunate film that finds its finest actor is an 11-year-old girl with only one previous movie credit (Aryana Engineer), but what else would you expect? Poorly written and over-the-top performances are part of the franchise, as Alice continues to oscillate between hyper-aware, clever assassin, and innocent victim.
The guns and explosions are big, the actors attractive (Alice, as always, is in either a skimpy lab outfit, or tight leather, while Li dons a red mini-dress), and the plot utterly predictable, yet in all of that, it’s still plenty of fun. They don’t waste much time on exposition, maintaining the simplest of plots (objective: escape the laboratory) while trying to make the audience care and maybe even think a little bit (question: do clones have feeling?)
We don’t really want to care, and thankfully director Paul W.S. Anderson knows how to have fun. The many characters of the film make for a high body count as they become victims of various zombies, some of the fascist persuasion, and other swift, terrorizing beasts, some wielding impressive weapons. The 3-D works well, and as expected, there is blood, brains, and bullets hurled in your general direction throughout. The 95-minute running time seems like the perfect length, offering the right amount of inane, mindless, hypnotic action just before you start asking yourself, what exactly am I doing watching this absurdity?