Resident Evil: Retribution,” the fifth entry in this improbably long-running franchise, was no different in that regard. The posters tell you nothing else about this movie other than Alice is a gun-toting bad-ass standing against evil forces in a post-apocalyptic world. Hey, people bought it the last four times. Why mix things up now?
The heroes’ victory against Albert Wesker and the Umbrella Corporation last time was declared prematurely. Alice and her friends are attacked and she is captured. She awakens in a massive Umbrella testing facility, a former Soviet submarine base under the Siberian ice. The Red Queen program is now in control of Umbrella and is determined to destroy all of humanity. The human resistance, ironically led by Wesker, sends Ada Wong to rescue Alice. Now, the two must fight their way out of the giant compound, fighting zombies, monsters, and a team of evil clones led by a brainwashed Jill Valentine.
Another common habit of the series, by now, is the inclusion of a scene that actually functions like a zombie movie, in-between countless shots of Alice being a God-mode action hero. After that reverse motion opening and a lengthy “Previously on Resident Evil” montage, there’s a sequence of Alice living an idyllic suburban life with a husband and a daughter. This peaceful existence is suddenly interrupted by the zombie apocalypse, forcing normal-person Alice and her daughter to sneak around, flee, and fight in a more panicked, realistic manner. Though a blatant rip-off of the opening from Zack Snyder’s “Dawn of the Dead,” down to certain shots being replicated, it’s an effective sequence. It also gives us some rare insight into Alice’s personality, suggesting this stern-faced mega bad-ass secretly longs to be a normal person. The rest of the movie resists this character development — aside from a few quibs, Alice remains a soulless killing machine — but it does keep the daughter around, allowing Milla Jovovich to show some human empathy for once.
Ada Wong, by the way, somehow manages to move faster than these projectiles. Because, of course, the action scenes are dumb as shit. Characters drive a Rolls-Royce into a subway tunnel and it still works afterwards. Alice and Ada explode a car inches from their faces but are not burnt. A new breed of zombie, that can operate vehicles and fire guns, are introduced, essentially making the undead identical to regular action movie mooks. It all leads up to another protracted ending that exists just to set up the next film, “Retribution” practically concluding with “To Be Continued!” flashing on-screen. The movie's typical Anderson-esque dumbness can be best summed up in one moment. Before Alice and the mind-controlled Jill face off, Valentine activates her weapon: A telescoping spear that keeps on telescoping until little claws pop out of the ends. Because everything must be taken to its most kewl, most x-treme conclusion.
Leon Kennedy, and Barry Burton all have fairly prominent roles. (“Resident Evil 4's” Las Plagas virus is also referenced, though the film version is totally different.) Part five is right around the time public opinion seems to have shifted on the “Resident Evil” series. All my hardcore movie friends started to praise the films as trashy fun, when previously they were only referred to as aggressive nonsense. As someone who loves trash, I just can't see it. “Resident Evil: Retribution” is an exhaustively excessive and senseless film. It is better than the first and second entry in the series though, which is something, I guess. [5/10]