Mania Review: Resident Evil: Retribution -

Mania Review: Resident Evil: Retribution

Mania Grade: C-

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  • Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guillory, Kevin Durand and Boris Kodjoe
  • Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson
  • Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
  • Studio: Screen Gems
  • Rating: R
  • Run Time: 117 minutes
  • Series:

Mania Review: Resident Evil: Retribution

Undead in more ways than one.

By Rob Vaux     September 14, 2012

 Let’s face it: we don’t expect much from the Resident Evil series. Suit Milla Jovovich in the fetish gear du jour, send her against a new passel of zombies, and who cares about little things like a coherent plot? The increasingly Byzantine mythology has reached a state where even hard-core fans of the video game are hard-pressed to explain exactly what’s going on, and that’s okay. We’re not here for deep thinking of any form. The third and fourth movies, in particular, achieved some real guilty pleasures, and with Jovovich rarin’ to go for Part Five, there was no reason to expect anything different.

Unfortunately, Resident Evil: Retribution can’t even pass muster for the simple standards of this series. It starts out great – with a striking reverse-slow-motion depiction of a typical slice of Resident Evil mayhem – and finishes with a terrific cliffhanger, but the whole middle part just bores us to tears. Like the other films in the series, it needed to capture the energy and feeling of the source video games. It doesn’t, leaving us watching someone else play rather than feeling like they’re playing themselves.

Primary fault for it lies in the chosen locale. After getting blown off the ship in the transition from Part 4, Alice (Milla Jovovich) finds herself trapped in a virtual training center for the Umbrella Corporation. She quickly plans a breakout, aided by allies both expected and surprising, but must first fight her way through a variety of virtual scenarios used by Umbrella to test their zombification virus.

We’re never sure if the zombies are “real” or merely clones. Many of the supporting figures who pop up seem to be clones as well. Director Paul W.S. Anderson – who’s clearly doubled down on these films along with his wife Jovovich – hopes to establish a dreamlike “what is reality” feel to the mayhem, but ultimately succeeds only in removing any hint of plausible danger. Instead, he sets up an escalating series of VR simulations: one set in New York, one in Moscow, one in a random suburb and so on… all actually taking place in the Umbrella facility.  The fights feel larger and more elaborate, including one piece in a virtual Times Square between Alice and a pair of giant boss zombies, but the uniformly lack any interesting aspects. The backflips and gunshots take on a glum, repetitive tone, differentiated only by the exact flavor of zombie and whether or not Alice has any back-up (which includes returning faces like Michelle Rodriguez and Boris Kodjoe). The game of mix-n-match quickly wears out its welcome, with the action finally sputtering to a halt rather than reaching any plausible climax.

The dizzying array of supporting characters don’t help, whisked in and out with reckless abandon and accompanied by exasperating explanations to remind us why they exist. Certainly one doesn’t expect high levels of acting with a project of this nature, but some of the performances here rank among the most embarrassing you’ll ever see. That doesn’t include Jovovich thankfully – she gives it her all, as always – but even normally stalwart character actors like Kevin Durand phone it in rather than investing their parts with the energy that might have saved it.

The most exasperating part is how it finally starts to come together, with the return of an old foe and a brilliant set-up for Part Six. Then, just as we feel the groove the way we should have ninety minutes before, the credits roll. I’m genuinely looking forward to seeing the next film… which only makes it harder to watch this one putter around in circles. We know what this series is selling and we don’t ask for anything more. Just a comfortable collection of zombies and explosions to while away an afternoon. Resident Evil: Retribution can’t even deliver that in a satisfactory manner: another empty jumble of images in search of a reason to exist. 


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redslayer 9/14/2012 10:15:46 PM

Forget about the C- . This Resident Evil was great fun and the action never stopped! I watched in 3D and it was so much fun. Milla was great again and Sienna Guillory was great as Jill Valentine. I was not one bit disappointed so don't be scared about spending your ticket money on this one.

thezillaman 9/14/2012 10:48:22 PM

i think manias review are always shit..

ponyboy76 9/15/2012 3:53:32 AM

 Hmm, strange. No ones taken credit for the review. It's usually Rob who writes them and if so there is usually a curve of at least a grade making this a C movie. Always enjoyed RE. No reason to stop watching them now.

CyanideRush 9/15/2012 4:38:08 AM

My wife and I actually really dig these films. As you said Redslayer, they're so much fun. I thought this one was the best since the first. That said, they're not zombie flicks anymore; they're totally stylistic action movies. And that's totally ok. 


Dazzler 9/15/2012 7:17:39 AM

Can't wait to see it.  I don't care about reviews, it's eposidic. 

InnerSanctum 9/15/2012 2:25:37 PM

 Second verse same as the first.  

Hookedonavengers2012 9/15/2012 7:25:09 PM

 Although I dont play video games I really enjoy these movies! They are such a guity pleasure of mine! And I looove Milla! ;)

SinisterPryde 9/16/2012 11:45:35 AM

Saw this with my family last night.  For some reason I keep catching the odd numbered ones in theaters but not the even.

I enjoyed the movie for what it was and especially since I love both Milla and these movies.  The actor playing Leon was terrible and since I have never seen him in anything it didn't bother me that much.  Sienna Guillory was confusing however.  She did a fine job in the second one so why was her acting so bad here?  The only thing I can think of was that it must be a way of showing that she was being "mind controlled".

Otherwise, fun movie.

vitieddie 9/16/2012 10:36:04 PM

RE5 was a bit average ... characters seem to come alive and die and so forth ... the main setting and plot seems weaker than the previous installments ... but the action and babes were great ... C plus

raa2001 9/17/2012 12:13:17 AM


I saw this last night and it was O.K. Good action scenes but they should just call these movies "Project Alice".  They no longer feel like Resident Evil based on the game.  The first two movies did a good job at capturing more of the mood of the games.  Then they just became all out sci fi action with little horror.

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