So my wife and I went to see Resident Evil: Retribution last weekend. We decided to splurge a bit on the tickets, because if we’re going to watch some trashy hot-chick violence porn, we really should watch it in IMAX 3D.
This movie hits all the key points of the Resident Evil franchise: Zombies, soldiers, zombie soldiers, a giant slimy boss creature, Milla Jovovich face-kicking zombies, Milla Jovovich gunning down zombies with a pair of shiny pistols, Milla Jovovich waking up on the floor half naked… It was exactly what I expected.
I think this film has secured Jovovich’s position as the top name in ass-kicking ladies (although there is much to be said for Kate Beckinsale in Underworld: Awakening — I’d pay money to see a slow-motion 3D catfight between Alice and Selene). But just in case Milla’s not enough, she’s brought a few friends. Sienna Guillory returns as Jill Valentine, although for most of the movie she is acting under the influence of evil forces. Li Bingbing also makes a good impression as Ada Wong, but she doesn’t get a lot of screen time.
The real stand-out guest ass-kicking hot chick, however, is Michele Rodriguez, returning in full bad-girl mode. You may remember that her character, Rain Ocampo, died in the first movie, but as you might also remember, the Umbrella Corporation has can clone full-grown adults. This allows Rodriguez to come back as a badass evil twin of Rain. But it also allows her to come back as another clone of herself that’s been imprinted with a standard-issue suburban soccer mom personality. After seeing Rodriguez playing so many tough chicks with her patented Sleepy-Eyelid Stare of Contempt, I honestly didn’t know she could play anything else. It was kind of fun to discover her versatility.
The plot is the usual Resident Evil goofiness, involving a giant underground Umbrella Corporation testing facility where the aformentioned cloning takes place. It’s mostly just a plot device to allow the filmmakers to bring back some popular characters. In fact, between the regular returning characters, the cloned characters, and the characters who have switched sides, I’ve pretty much lost track of who’s who. They could swap them all around in the next movie, and I’d never notice the discontinuity.
One thing that surprised me about Resident Evil: Retribution was that parts of it were strikingly beautiful. The opening credits begin with Alice floating underwater and then move backwards in slow motion to show how she got there after the ship she was on is attacked. It’s a violent and stunning visual.
Through some more plot goofiness I can’t get into without spoilers, other beautifully-filmed action scenes are set in Tokyo, Moscow, New York, and a submarine pen in the Kamchatka peninsula. There’s also a visually arresting sequence set on the surface of a frozen sea filled with trapped ships.
What more can I say? Do lots of people die? Are lots of zombies shot in the head? Does Alice get away? Does she discover in the end that there is still more fighting to be done in the next movie? I think you can guess.
Still, if you want to see another Resident Evil movie, well, this one is as good as any of them.