When it comes to video game films, the Resident Evil franchise is not always at the head of the pack. Aside from including familiar faces in the cast, the actual story details do not always coincide with the actual events in Capcom's zombie-rrific game. That being said, if you are looking for over the top, at times outrageous action sequences that are bundled together with explosions and plenty of traps, evil AIs and zombies, then you've come to the right place.
Alice (Milla Jovovich), our on-again off-again t-Virus mutant wakes up captured in yet another Umbrella facility. Taking place right after the events of Resident Evil: Afterlife, our heroine ends up in a giant underwater base located in Russia. This time, trouble comes in the form of a brainwashed Jill Valentine. Fans who played Resident Evil 5 will be familiar with blonde Jill, donning a battle suit similar to that of Tekken's Nina Williams. The then-S.T.A.R.S. agent also has the scarab device attached to her, making her an umbrella super soldier, complete with troops and utter control of several death traps.
Ada Looks a Little Youthful
While on the run, Alice comes across Ada Wong (who -oddly enough, looks like a young Asian pop idol) who reveals that she is working with Albert Wesker. It seems both of them have decided to rebel against Umbrella and are here to assist Alice's escape. This proves to be much harder than expected as the past comes to haunt them. Due to the presence of Red Queen, the base's evil supercomputer, they are sent to several different "virtual" locations. Each of these act like simulations of an outbreak, complete with a slew of Plaga Undead infected with the t-Virus. Yes, the monsters are real and yes it's basically an excuse to shoot guns, etc. We get to see several locations including Washington, D.C, New York Moscow and even Tokyo --which is nifty and all, but seemed really gimmicky. Even the gunfights were just plain mind boggling, as there was this scene where Alice needed a reload and so she tossed her ammo clip, beat up some baddies for a couple of minutes, willed the reload to magically make a perfect landing just in the nick of time to shoot someone. Didn't we mention it gets outrageous?
Apparently, Wesker has everything all figured out, as he has enlisted the help of Luther West, Leon Kennedy and even Barry Burton to form a resistance squad to aid Alice and Ada. As fans of the Resident Evil video games, you may be confused as to how this is just possible. Just the sheer character liberties that were taken to get these guys together really felt like cheap. Barry Burton debuted in this film and sadly had to get injured by a Licker and die by being shot at by clones. Sure, he's no Chris, but there was no reason to introduce such an iconic video game character only to use him as cannon fodder in the next few minutes.
An Easy Excuse to Bring Back a Good Actress
As for the clones, we get to see Michelle Rodriguez (a.k.a. Rain), One, and Carlos again in Retribution. As a mere shadow of their former selves, they do not retain memories but instead are programmed to respond appropriately as Umbrella deems it. We were torn about this as the cameos were appreciated, though being mindless drones, there was no substance whatsoever to go hand in hand with their appearance. It was a very obvious plot device, though it was still a goodwill gesture geared towards fans of the movie.
What was not a goodwill gesture was the casting choices for core Resident Evil characters as well as the acting that comes to these decisions. Like for instance, Ada looks a bit too girl-next-door and in contrast, Leon looks less than suave. Looking more awkward than awe-inspiring. How could they have gotten him wrong? He is the face of a game and even Resident Evil pure CG movies, they could have at least made sure to get someone that can play him more acceptably. If there was one scene we could not get out of our minds, it was when the remaining members of the resistance team escaped and we see Leon and Ada interact for the first time. Leon places his hand on Ada's lap and the actress makes a face that is a mix between a cringe and perhaps some discomfort. Basically there was no chemistry at all and the attempts at drawing that out of the cast members is hardly successful.
The Morality Play
Just when you thought you've seen it all, the biggest shocker in Retribution comes in the form of Becky, who is Alice and Carlos' daughter. Or at least a clone-like test subject that was made to be their daughter. Her memories are entirely planted, seeing as she is also a purely a manufactured being. Some sign language ensues and somehow she survives to live for the next Resident Evil movie much like the ongoing re games. While everything else looked terribly like an excuse to bring out the action scenes, Becky's introduction seemed to be of key importance for the plot of the sixth movie. Why else would she survive when plenty of other iconic characters died in a snap? At any rate, she arrives at the White House with Alice and company, where Wesker delivers some troubling news: they're representing mankind's last stand against Umbrella's abominations. Don't get us wrong, we're not big fans of the daughter plot, most especially because against all odds, Alice puts her fake daughter's safety over the life of her loyal comrades. Sure we don't expect her to leave the kid but what makes that particular clone's life more important than another? And why in the world was she created deaf? Plot-wise, it just doesn't make sense.
Perhaps the idea here is to not over think the whole thing. It's an action film, using the Resident Evil franchise as a shell to give a reason for people to have a good time. Or even just to showcase some CG, slow motion scenes and reversed frames. Whatever the reason was, it was good enough to get a thumbs up from long time viewers. The film was a success at the box office, grossing $200 million internationally. A sixth Resident Evil film is already confirmed, still with Milla Jovovich as its star of course while a seventh is also a possibility. There are even talks about a reboot, which leaves room for hope that Jill, Barry and the rest of the characters may get their much deserved big screen debut. Properly this time.