The story is everywhere in this installment of the Resident Evil film franchise. I know the basic plotline is supposed to include scenes, moments and characters from most of the previous films. However, some happenings are not clearly explained, nor are they interesting or engaging. Throughout the film I was like “Why do I care about these characters again?” If you haven’t read my brother’s article, on how important characters are to a story, then read it here and come back.
The story starts from where we left off in Afterlife; on the ship. Alice and her group are killed by Jill Valentine (who is being controlled). This is shown through this really bad slow motion rewind sequence. I don’t know what the director was trying to pull off but it didn’t work. Then Alice (played by Milla Jovovich) narrates the entirety of the Resident Evil’s story (film franchise). The first thing I thought: “she has gotten worse at acting”.
The slow motion sequence is repeating in real time and it transitions to a modern day family (Alice, Carlos from Extinction and their daughter) in a pre-apocalyptic world. The chemistry between the actors is devastatingly cringe worthy and awkward. This may have been because Oded Fehr (Carlos) and Milla had to act attracted to each other when the director is Milla’s husband in real life.
Now at this point Alice has lost her powers (Albert Wesker took them from her in Afterlife) yet she seems as strong as ever; apart from a few moments of touching her side and seeing blood on her hand. She still pulls off some crazy shit!
Anyway, Alice is in her modern day house, the apocalypse hits, things go to hell and then it transitions to her in a room owned by Umbrella. The security is overridden by a power cut; Alice receives fighting gear and then exits into Tokyo streets. These are the same streets from the beginning of Afterlife and the same thing happens. A door magically opens and Alice runs towards it with zombies following her. This is a part where she destroys them. There must be at least fifty zombies yet she performs the same awesome acrobatic skills, from previous films, whilst using guns and melee weapons too. Another door opens and here comes the originality…
Wesker wants to team up with Alice. How original! Oh, not only that, they’re really in a simulation. How original! I mean, I know people take little details from other media and adapt as their own, to make something kind of original, but this is straight up carbon copying clichés. The deal here is that Umbrella has been simulating outbreaks and selling the virus to various countries as biological war assets. Another stale plotline in this film is the fact that Jill Valentine is being controlled by The Red Queen from the first film, so Jill and her accompanying soldiers are always on Alice’s trail. The whole mission from here on is to escape the simulation rooms and explode the main lab.
Alice is then joined by Ada Wong and they make their way through various simulated rooms whilst coming across various characters from previous films. Most have been killed off but they’re allowed back from the dodgy backstory of everything being simulated. Leon Kennedy, Barry Burton and Luther West (from Afterlife) help Alice on her mission to blow up the main base. They fail to cast believe actors as their game counterparts (most notably Leon). Along the way Alice finds her daughter (who is really a simulation) and decides to take her with them. She eventually becomes emotionally attached to her simulated daughter (shock) who survives until the end.
A few characters die (I forget who) and no emotion is really touched on. I don’t care about any of these characters in the slightest. You think I would due to previous films but they’ve never really developed the characters in the Resident Evil films. The director and writers rely on the games’ character backgrounds instead of successfully developing the characters themselves. They don’t even stick to the games’ character development anyway because Leon (in this film) doesn’t act like Leon from Resi 4 or 6. They destroy the main lab and everything seems fine and dandy in a truck; they’re travelling to Wesker’s base. It is unsuspectingly (although I anticipated such an event) toppled over by Jill Valentine and her crew (which includes Rain Ocampo, played by Michelle Rodriguez, from the first film). They have a massive show down – which I have to admit was pretty cool – and it results in Jill being relieved from her controlled state and Rain dying once again.
Last but not least. Here comes the biggest fuck you to the audience. Alice visits Wesker in his office (back at the base; the group have travelled back there in a helicopter) and he injects her with the T-Virus. She has her powers back (not that they seemed to have disappeared). He leads her outside and says “This is humanity’s last stand; the beginning of the end”. Then a creature hits the screen and everything goes black.
Cliché upon Cliché.
Resident Evil as a film franchise was never that good. However, the first film did contain some originality. It stayed close to the game in the sense of horror. It was a huge mistake to give Alice super powers, as it were. The films, much like the recent Resi games, have turned into action rather than horror. This allows the writers and director to pay less attention to the storyline and character and just focus on action sequences. That seems to have been done with this film. It sucks because the budget for Retribution was 65 million dollars and it grossed 220 million dollars. Of course Hollywood are going to want to make more. This means other independent films lose out on funding (and independent films can be of industry standard in terms of story and charters). If you want a film that will excite you, if you can ignore the plotholes, etc. and if you don’t care about the characters then this film is for you. If you’re looking for something deeper and more meaningful, then stay away from Resident Evil: Retribution.