By Scott Tibbs, October 1, 2012
Warning: I spoil the ending. You have been warned.
The fifth chapter of the movie franchise based on the Resident Evil video games was heavy on action, but someone did not realize that you should at least attempt to have a coherent story to tie the action scenes together. Even the action scenes themselves make little sense if there is not a story to explain what is going on.
First, the entire premise of the movie is complete nonsense, made even more nonsensical by the twist ending. (More on that later.) Alice is captured and is being held in an underground testing facility by the evil corporation Umbrella. (Again with Hollywood's anti-corporate bias, even though the movie industry is devoted to bringing in profits for the corporations that run the entertainment industry.) The purpose of the facility is to have a safe place to test the biological weapons, since they are too dangerous to test above ground.
The problem is obvious: Umbrella wants to sell the weapons to the governments of earth, but the world has already been destroyed by a rampaging T-Virus. There are no world governments that exist to buy the weapons for Umbrella. Furthermore, since we are already in a post-apocalyptic landscape, why is there all the need for security in testing the weapons? Releasing more T-Virus infected people into the world will not make things any worse.
We start off with Alice bravely standing on the deck of the ship shooting her handguns at incoming attack helicopters and hiding behind absolutely no cover whatsoever. Is Alice a complete idiot? .Is she trying to get herself killed here? No one in their right mind would try to shoot it out with this kind of vastly superior firepower.
Part of the problem with Retribution is that you needed to have played some of the video games in order to really get what is going on in the movie. For example, Leon Kennedy and Ada Wong have a history in Resident Evil 2 and 4, but neither of these characters have appeared in the movies at all prior to Retribution. Leon and Ada are dressed as they were in Resident Evil 4. For Leon, this makes sense. For Ada, this makes no sense as her dress is completely impractical for the kind of fighting she is doing - especially her utterly ridiculous scarf.
The Las Plagas from Resident Evil 4 shows up in Retribution, but tin the games the Las Plagas have absolutely nothing to do with Umbrella. It is an ancient parasite that is being used by a cult some sort of imperialistic agenda. Umbrella does want to get its hands on the parasite, but there is no reason for it to appear in the movie. There either needed to be some sort of explanation for why Las Plagas is in the movie or it should have been left out.
Alice has lost her powers, and is no longer the superhumanly strong, fast and agile fighter she was earlier. The problem is that the way she is portrayed does not reflect she is a normal human character. In addition to all of the flips and incredible moves she pulls off, she is much more durable than a human being should be. Alice takes a bullet in the side fairly early in Retribution, but aside from minor annoying pain it is almost completely ignored. She no-sells it for the rest of the movie. She takes a punch to the chest that shatters her ribs near the end, but no-sells that too.
Speaking of no-selling injuries, Wesker is dead! He was killed at the end of Resident Evil: Afterlife when a huge bomb exploded in his face and incinerated both him and the plane he was riding. Does Wesker's infection with the T-Virus allow him to recover from being incinerated? Did we forget about this? Or are we simply hoping that no one would notice that the ending of the last movie is being ignored?
I saw Retribution in 3-D, but I would recommend seeing it in normal two dimensional format. The only scene where the 3-D was worthwhile was the fight between Alice/Ada and the Hammer Brothers. (Two versions of Executioner Majini from the Resident Evil 5 video game.) Other parts of the 3-D looked like transparencies on top of each other, as if 3-D was added as an afterthought. to cash in on the 3-D craze.
So at the end, it is revealed that the red Queen wants to wipe out all life on earth. (Oh, a computer program goes nuts and wants to destroy humanity. Where have I seen that before?) Why does the Red Queen want to wipe out humanity? We don't know. This is never explained. It also makes the idea of selling the T-Virus for profit completely meaningless. It makes the underground testing facility completely meaningless. Most of all, it makes the soldiers working for the Red Queen complete idiots, because they would be included in the "all life on earth" the Red Queen wants to destroy.
It is as of the people making the movie wanted Capcom to make a video game based on the movie, which was itself based on a video game. We have a Tokyo level, a Moscow level, a New York City level, and a headquarters level. But the story of a video game is not all that important, though it is nice. The point is the gameplay. In a movie - even one where the main point is action scenes - the story is much more important.
Final Grade: C-