I’m not sure that there’s ever been a film franchise that has gotten as much mileage out of mainly bad films as the Resident Evil franchise. Apparently it was all a clever ploy designed to lower our expectations for Resident Evil: Retribution because this film…wasn’t that bad. This is the fifth entry in the series based upon the popular videogames and it was certainly the, ummm…gamiest of all of them so far. What it might lack in terms of a sensible story it more than makes up for in almost non-stop action that makes you feel like you are in a virtual game, armed to the teeth, and mowing down zombies and far nastier creatures.
Resident Evil: Retribution returns many of the series’ past stars in a bloody homecoming including Michelle Rodriguez as Rain Ocampo (from the first film) and Oded Fehr as Carlos Olivera (Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil Extinction) even though both characters had been killed. More on that in a moment. The film begins right where the previous film, Resident Evil: Afterlife ended. Alice (Jovovich) is aboard a freighter with numerous other survivors when they are attacked by a fleet of Umbrella Corporation airships led by Jill Valentine who is now under Umbrella’s control.
The opening is shot in slow motion reverse action before switching back to realtime. Alice is blown off of the freighter into the water and knocked unconscious. When she awakes she is living a cozy life in the suburbs with her husband Todd (Fehr) and daughter Becky. Huh? Is this Resident Evil’s Bobby Ewing moment? The serenity doesn’t last long as zombies attack and kill Todd as Alice escapes with her daughter and Rain. But she’s soon killed by Todd now a zombie himself and awakes in a massive Umbrella base. Under a former Soviet submarine base in northern Russia, Umbrella has constructed a huge undersea complex complete with recreations of Moscow, New York, Tokyo, and suburban Raccoon City. Alice learns that these are used by Umbrella to test out their viruses and simulate what will happen in an actual plague.
That’s about as much plot as were afforded. Alice meets Ada Wong and a simulation of former enemy Albert Wesker who now claims he wants to aid Alice. Wesker has assembled a team led by Leon Kennedy to infiltrate the Umbrella base to rescue Alice an Ada. The rest of the film consists of shootouts and chases as Ada and Alice run through the different simulations in the recreated cities as Leon and his team fights their way to meet them. It’s not deep but it is thrilling. Rain Ocampo and Carlos Olivera live again as clones, this time doing their best to kill Alice. Meanwhile Alice, Ada, and Leon’s team have to fight their way not only through Umbrella’s Operatives but also though intelligent Russian solider zombies, giant “Lickers”, and hordes of run-of-the-mill zombies.
While Alice has been de-powered by Wesker, she is still at her butt kicking best even if there is a little too much Matrix-style slow-motion fighting. Fans of the Resident Evil film franchise will no doubt be jumping for joy at characters Ada Wong and Leon Kennedy being included for the first time, at least in the live action films. Both had appeared in the animated Resident Evil: Damnation film. But this is hardly a film you note for its fine acting performances. More than any previous entry, Resident Evil: Retribution captures the feel of the games. Each recreated city they venture into makes you feel like advancing into a new level in the game, with new foes and monsters.
While it had the chance to send out the series on a high note, the wide open ending means a sixth film is on the way and Jovovich has already confirmed that it will be the finale to the series. I might even have to raise my expectations just a bit.
Two Audio Commentary Tracks: One with Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich and the second with Anderson and Producer Jeremy Bolt.
Deleted Scenes (12:30) Mostly a collection of extended scenes including the zombie attack in suburbia, Alice’s battle with the zombies in the lighted Umbrella corridor, Rain Ocampo finding Ada.
Outtakes (4:30) Standard gag reel
Maestro of Evil: Directing Resident Evil: Retribution (8:06) Paul W.S. Anderson talks about directing the latest entry and the development of the RE franchise.
Evolving Alice (6:50) A look at how the character of Alice has changed and evolved over the five films.
Resident Evil: Reunion (9:42) A look at the return of actors Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr to the franchise.
Design and Build the World of Resident Evil: Retribution (9:11) Designing a bigger world and the larger monsters and creatures and the bigger special F/X
Drop (Un) Dead The Creatures of Resident Evil: Retribution (7:00) A look at the undead creations including the normal zombies, Red Army Zombies, Majini Undead, and giant Lickers
Resident Stuntman (6:17) A look at the film’s stunts including the fights, car chases, and wire work effects
Resident Evil: The Face of the Fan (3:15) A lucky fan gets to tour the RE set and become a zombie extra in the film.