Starring Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, and Michelle Rodriguez. Rated 14A. Now playing
After directing 2002's Resident Evil and 2010's Resident Evil: Afterlife, Paul W. S. Anderson--formerly known as just Paul Anderson--returns to the video game-spawned survival-horror franchise with Resident Evil: Retribution. His main goal throughout the film--apart from numbing your brain with nonstop gunfire--is to make his spouse, star Milla Jovovich, look good.
Boy, what a challenge.
The 36-year-old supermodel-turned-actress still looks amazing, in case you were wondering. And not just in that lengthy scene when she's stretched out wearing two strategically placed napkins. Looks are absolutely everything in Retribution, which melds stunning 3-D computer-graphics and spectacular sets with a skimpy storyline and zero characterization.
The movie starts off with some eye-popping effects as Jovovich's character, Alice, is shown being thrust from the ocean onto the deck of a freighter where a fierce firefight is being waged between those on board and an attacking horde of heavily-armed helicopter gunships. The action plays out backwards, in slow-mo, and when it rolls back to the start of the battle Alice shows up on a video screen to explain all the events that led up to it. This provides the ideal opportunity for Anderson to kill time with short clips from the previous four films--like that classic bit where Alice runs halfway up a wall and delivers a sidewinder kick to the head of a rabid zombie rottweiler.
When Alice is done delivering the plot outline--which centres on "experimental viral weaponry" gone amuck--the opening battle is shown once again, this time in forward mode. Too bad. It looked way better in reverse.
We next see Alice (or someone who looks just like her) living an idyllic suburban life with a loving husband and beautiful child--until a pack of marauding zombies ruin their morning. At this point the movie gets quite impressive, as Anderson does a stellar job of injecting an adrenalized, 28 Days Later vibe into things. It doesn't last long, though, and soon enough we're back to the numbing drudgery of watching Alice and a host of others blast the living shit out of monsters, zombies, and soldiers--not to mention zombie-soldiers--ad nauseum.
Fourteen-year-old males hooked on violent video games may well get their money's worth from Resident Evil: Retribution, but everybody else is outta luck.