It’s been a decade since the release of the original film adaptation of the zombie post-apocalyptic videogame Residential Evil.
Since then, writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson (not to be confused with Paul Thomas Anderson of “Boogie Nights” and “There Will Be Blood.” He’s actually good), has gone on to pen four sequels, directing two.
Despite their terminative titles (Apocalypse, Extinction, Afterlife) the series seems to mirror its heroine and just won’t die.
Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues her battle against the evil Umbrella Corporation, her former employer and the company responsible for the viral outbreak that brought on the walking dead.
Five films in, “Resident Evil: Retribution” faces Anderson with the challenge of how to keep pumping life into a dying series, pun intended. So he does what any mediocre filmmaker would do and brings killed off characters from past films back to life (all right no more zombie puns).
Resurrected characters Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) and Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) return as a pair of good and bad clones while Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) reprise their role from past productions.
“Retribution” picks up where “Afterlife” ended, with Alice leading her crusade against Umbrella and its evil minions. She gets knocked unconscious and awakens as a suburban soccer mom, complete with bad bangs, a townhome and a daughter, Becky (Aryana Engineer). The mother-daughter paradigm is Anderson’s all-too-obvious and unnecessary nod to “Aliens.”
Of course the dream/simulated-reality doesn’t last long. Zombies attack and Alice wakes up in Umbrella’s holding cell.
The rest of the film is Alice’s escape amidst a collage of 3-D effects, slow-motion fight sequences, explosions and corny one-liners, while Alice and her posse navigate through virtual simulations of New York City, Moscow and Raccoon City suburbia.
Jovovich has hardly any dialogue, and when she does it sounds likes Siri with a speck of melodrama.
The entire film is ambiguous with every place and person stemming from simulation. Or are they? With its overarching action sequences and paper-thin plot, “Retribution” plays out more like a video game than a film, in the worst way possible. And with its cliff-hanger ending, this installment is nothing but filler for the film series.