This weekend, I went and watched Resident Evil: Retribution. All 95 minutes of that monstrosity. Oh, God. Why, oh, why did I volunteer for this? Was it out of selflessness, taking one for the team? Or were my motives somewhat more on the masochistic? Or even out of the pure sadistic hatred I have for Paul W. S. Anderson’s ‘work’ and everything he stands for; riding on the glory of the greats (Alexandre Dumas’ The Three Musketeers, for example) and ruining them forever in a slow-motion explosion too tragic to tear your eyes away…

Retribution opens exactly where the previous instalment one ended. The invincible Alice (Anderson’s wife, Milla Jovovich) along with her loyal freedom fighters are ambushed by an impossibly large horde of baddies. Improbable shooting and slow-motion ensues until Alice is subdued only to wake up later wearing nothing but a tea-towel sized cloth in one of those surgically white prison cells we all hear about. Of course, you cannot stop the unstoppable and she successfully escapes in such a fashion that you may ask yourself whether G4S was hired to set up their security. The remainder of this gun-fest is Alice making her way out of this secret lair, facing a gauntlet of enemies who may be all too familiar to those aware of the franchise.

The setting is simply brilliant. Evidently, our Anderson is steadily running out of old recyclable ideas for a zombie setting. Perhaps he lacks the stamina to play out a whole movie in one place, or perhaps he finds it boring; so instead of setting a zombie flick in a city familiar to the audience, why not set it in a handful? In turn, it means we can sandwich four zombie flicks in one! Bargain! “But how is this possible?” I hear you scream. To delve any further into this would venture too far into spoiler-dom, but I’ll go as far as saying the plot is reminiscent of Moonraker, and by that I’m referring to the standards of storytelling – choppy, drivel that tries to create twists linking the previous films that just feel contrived. How does the Umbrella corporation manage to keep a steady income? No expense is spared, and their sales, with the world destroyed and all, must be pretty weak. Surely, this lacks some severe forethought from the board of execs. Anyway, I digress and I’ll stop there lest I reveal a crazy twist.

Sadly, there was no Jaws-like character to save this doomed attempt at a fourth sequel. The supporting cast’s performances are mediocre at best. Seemingly, Anderson may have been aware of this and threw returning star Michelle Rodriguez into the mix in order to spice things up, but to little effect. The script is cheesy and often embarrassing to the ear. Even a respected actor would struggle, but the rabble chosen could only deliver their words with either stiffness or an over-eagerness that made me cry at times. My favourite culprit for this was Sienna Guillory’s character Jill Valentine. Trying to put emphasis on her words to make her sound like the evil, brainwashed villainesse, she became almost laughable. Jovovich, however, was the most bearable, but I hope she one day stops tagging along with her hubby’s projects and moves into more independent work before those model looks run out. I’d rather the public didn’t have another Madonna on our hands but driven by Paul WS Anderson’s delusions of grandeur…

Before I end this, I’ll concede to say that Anderson is capable of making some very impressive action scenes when he restrains himself with the slow motion. I imagine if we watched the film in real-time, it would have probably lasted under half an hour. Some of the landscape shots and vehicle designs looked fairly slick and impressive. But the whole illusion dies as soon as anyone opens their mouth. I would say it’s a shame. But frankly, it’s not. With this, I’ll be as unapologetic as Anderson in his film-making. I know what I’m eating here is raw faeces. Perfuming it with rosewater will not make me rub my belly, asking for a second helping.

Charles-Philippe Bowles

 

Previous post

Winter-Summer Salad

Next post

Album Review: Death Grips - 'No Love Deep Web'

1 Comment

  1. The author
    October 8, 2012 at 20:26 — Reply

    Huh??? I hadn’t actually seen the trailer for this before seeing it. What the hell? It paints an entirely different picture for the film’s… Dare I say… plot. It’s ludicrous!

    And the zombie-mouth tentacle things… I forgot about that. The humanity!

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published.