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Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Review
What do you do when two of your main actors—playing two of the most iconic characters of the intellectual property that you have managed for more than 10 years—don’t return for your sequel, considering that the last time we saw them they were left in a tense cliffhanger?
If you are Paul W.S. Anderson, the only thing you will do is roll up your shirt, write another bonkers script and simply do what you have always done every time something similar has happened: never explain the absence of those characters. Remember Angie, the little girl from Apocalypse? That’s right, Anderson doesn’t remember her either.
That’s how Resident Evil: Retribution begins, with a beautiful sequence in reverse of the Umbrella’s attack on the Arcadia freighter. We see Alice shooting, we see Jill Valentine shooting, we see everybody shooting. Except for the Redfield siblings, who have magically disappeared. And although Alice later asks for them, the answer is just absolute silence.
Again, Anderson uses the prologue and the intro sequence to tie the ends of the previous film before giving way to the new story.
Alice has been captured and is again half-naked in a clinical, bright white setting, full of Umbrella logos.
Ada Wong (Li Bingbing), one of the two iconic video game characters missing in the saga, makes her debut helping Alice escape.
The situation is even more confusing when it is immediately revealed that Wesker is behind Alice’s escape plan. Sure, Wesker would have his personal evil plans, but he needs the human race to exist to do so, and Alice is an essential part of that last stand battle.
Umbrella’s experiments have gone out of human control (you don’t say!?) and it is the Artificial Intelligence Red Queen (Megan Charpentier) that now has absolute control of Umbrella. Its plan? To kill humanity and keep experimenting.
Because remember, what Umbrella only does is to experiment, experiment, and experiment a little more. They experiment to create wars and they create wars to continue making experiments.
Alice and Ada Wong are in Umbrella’s HQ, under the icy waters of Kamchatka. The facility manufactures clones (yes, clones are back!), which are used to simulate outbreaks in various parts of the planet to learn about the effects of T-Virus and the best way to contain it.
This is how the HQ then has several environments, including simulations of New York, Moscow, and Tokyo, each with creatures and personalized threats. That works incredibly well since it offers a classic video game structure (with probable involuntary meta-comments) full of varied stages, mini-bosses and final bosses.
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It also works as an excuse to bring Rain (Michelle Rodriguez) and Carlos (Oded Fehr) back, fulfilling both double duty with good and bad characters.
However, that is not the only thing Anderson does to hide the magical absence of the Redfields. Fan-favorite character Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb) makes his first appearance in the saga, as part of a military command that must meet with Alice and Ada Wong to help them escape from the Umbrella facility.
Certainly, all these new distractions, structures and characters make Retribution an entertaining experience, especially if you came here knowing the saga’s signature. The Redfields are never really missed, not because of the replacements, but because their cinematic versions were never really very charismatic in the first place.
Retribution has the best fight choreographies of the whole saga, enhanced with high-quality, expensive blockbuster cinematography, glamorous slow-camera shots and the athleticism and muscular charisma of Milla Jovovich and the action doubles. It’s perhaps the main reason to give this fifth installment a chance.
After surviving all the stages (which includes ties to the video games Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 5), Alice manages to deactivate the device that kept Jill brainwashed.
The whole surviving gang head to Washington. There, Alice visits Wesker at the White House. Apparently, Anderson wanted “Superpowered Alice” for the next movie, so Wesker quickly injects her with the magic virus back. He needs her for the final battle.
Alice promises to assassinate Wesker. But for now, they will, along with Leon, Jill, and Ada Wong, concentrate on the nearest threat. They are the last hope of the human race.
They all stop on the roof of the white house for an epic final shot, in which they watch from afar the army of mutated creatures of Umbrella, created by the artificial intelligence Red Queen, ready to kill them.
“This is the beginning of the end,” Wesker promises. And for the first time, the saga really seems to be in its final stretch.
Title: Resident Evil: Retribution
Release Year: 2012
Director(s): Paul W.S. Anderson
Actors: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Bingbing Li, Kevin Durand, and others