If you haven’t seen the previous four instalments of this incredibly popular film franchise, based on the Capcom survival horror video game series, then fear not. After an ingenious opening action sequence, our heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) recaps the story up to now for the benefit of newcomers. The basic story is that Alice fights alongside a resistance movement in the continuing battle against the Umbrella Corporation (an organisation responsible for infecting the majority of humanity with a deadly virus). There’s not much else to say really except that there are a lot of guns and a lot of zombies, and a lot of guns fired at said zombies.
While the majority of filmmakers will seemingly blither on about how 3D enhances the viewing experience and story for the audience, Director Paul WS Anderson (and most of us to be honest) know that 3D is pretty much a gimmick, and it’s one that he uses well. There’s a certain glee in watching numerous zombie like creatures being splattered over the screen be it by knife, gun or chains. There were a couple of times when an object hurled it’s way toward the screen in such ear-bleeding surround sound that I ducked in my seat. 3D has come a long way since that shark came crashing through an underwater control room in Jaws 3. It’s also the most action-packed sequel in the series to date and curiously the one that seems most like a video game. There are a few surprises on the way and a couple of scenes that are very well directed in that you do not expect what is going to happen next.
The premise for the film is set up in painfully obvious exposition dialogue by an incredibly hammy Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker, and his acting is so over-the-top that it would make Austin Powers proud. Via the usage of computerised maps, our heroes are told what their mission is and how to accomplish it. It’s as if Paul WS Anderson, who is also on screenwriting duties, thought the audience would be so dumb that they need every plot point marked out for them. If they were so dumb then they probably won’t be buying a ticket to see this film. But if it is dumb fun you are after, then you may well have come to the right place. However, dumb is probably too harsh a word to label this sequel.
The Resident Evil films are not meant to be thought-provoking pieces of art, but they are entertaining blockbusters, albeit more often than not, though, they miss the heart of an intelligent action film. This entry in the series has the most soul and Alice’s paternal instincts take over in the last half of the film when she tries to protect her ‘daughter’, who is partially deaf, played by the excellent Aryana Engineer. In casting the role, an actress had not been intended to have impaired hearing and it is a testament to the filmmakers to have cast her on her acting alone.
Fans will also rejoice at the return of Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), Luther West (Boris Kodjoe), Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez) and James “One” Shade (Colin Salmon). New characters from the games appearing for the first time in the franchise are Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), and Barry Burton (Kevin Durand). There is sadly not enough screen time given to this supporting cast and it feels as if they were all brought back together to satisfy the loyal fanbase and are therefore wasted on screen. That said, there is a fantastic mano-a-mano fight with Alice, Valentine, Ocampo, West and Kennedy that is one of the best choreographed fight scenes seen in a Hollywood film of recent years.
Without spoiling the ending, there is a set-up for the inevitable sequel, and hopefully final film. Several of the films in the previous entries were pushing it plot wise and it would be good to see the very last film end on a high and tie up all those loose ends. But then again, if audiences demand more Resident Evil, then they are going to get it until it’s game over.
Resident Evil: Retribution is on general release now.