Review: Resident Evil – Retribution / Cert: 15 / Director: Paul W.S. Anderson / Screenplay: Paul W.S. Anderson / Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Shawn Roberts / Release Date: January 28th
Like an undead monster than won't stop until it's eaten all of our brains, Resident Evil returns for a fifth instalment. This time round, Alice (Jovovich) finds herself imprisoned by the Umbrella Corp's Red Queen in a vast underwater testing facility housed in old Soviet submarine pens somewhere along Russia's frozen coastline. Luckily, in one of those the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-frenemy moves, her arch-nemesis Albert Wesker (Roberts) sends in a strike force to spring her. Out to put the kibosh on this is Alice's erstwhile pal Jill (Guillory), now under the Red Queen's mind control and clad in a skin-tight Aeon Flux-type outfit that's hopefully warmer than it looks. And that's about it for plot – can we interest you in some gats, a shiny black catsuit and a choice selection of T-virus muties?
The high gloss, horror theme park feel of Resident Evil: Afterlife, with its Frankenscript spliced together from various cinematic donors (Assault on Precinct 13, Escape from L.A.) becomes even more blatant in Retribution. Not only is the action splintered across several arenas mimicking real-life locales (Times Square, the Kremlin, etc), each swarming with its own breed of biohazard, but also characters and creatures from past films and video games pop up along the way in a manner contrived to stimulate fanboy salivary glands.
What results is a vacuum-packed ready meal of a movie that makes the earlier entries in the series seem like gory feasts by comparison. Waxwork dummy performances abound (with pouting cast members who look like they might be colleagues of Derek Zoolander), and the dialogue is dryly expository: “We need to cross two of the testing floors in order to escape via the blah blah blah...”
Still, there are some eye-catching highlights – a rumble in a fake Shibuya shopping district sees Alice do wire-work flips through a crowd of zombie Gothic Lolitas and salarymen, and a Rolls Royce is involved in a lively chase with undead Russian soldiers in machine-gun-mounted Jeeps. And it's all extremely pretty in a slightly antiseptic way. Writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson doesn't really do scary any more, but he does shiny very well. (Which is why common-or-garden walking dead take a back seat to fancier opponents these days – they're too grungy and gnarly for his squeaky-clean visuals.) As for Jovovich, she may not know her Stanislavski but she knows her angles and is always good to watch.
The HD transfer looks and sounds pristine (the tomandandy score throbbing nicely through the speakers). Extras include half a dozen slick, well-crafted featurettes, plus commentaries – hours of goodies to keep you amused until the inevitable sixth instalment comes lurching (or winging, if the tease ending is anything to go by) into view.
Extras: Deleted and extended scenes / 6 Featurettes: 'Maestro of Evil – Directing Resident Evil: Retribution'; 'Evolving Alice'; 'Resident Evil – Reunion'; 'Design and Build – The World of Resident Evil: Retribution'; 'Resident Stuntman'; 'Code – Mika' / Project Alice – the Interactive Database / Director and cast commentary / Director and producer commentary / Drop (Un)Dead – the Creatures of Retribution / Outtakes