Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

Rating: *(*)
Release Date: 9/14/12
Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Li Bingbing, Boris Kodjoe, Johann Urb, Shawn Roberts, Oded Fehr

Appallingly bad, even by increasingly low "Resident Evil" standards, but punctuated by some attractive compositions and some impressively brutal female action sequences courtesy of Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, and Michelle Rodriguez. The film is completely absurd and utterly pointless, which makes me wonder why it even exists. Is this really the best they could come up with? Picking up immediately where "Resident Evil: Afterlife" (2010) left off, we're treated to a mind-numbingly awful synopsis of the entire series before being thrown into a completely baffling collection of random zombie set pieces. Apparently, Alice (Milla Jovovich) has been captured by Umbrella and her old (and still alive) nemesis Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) is attempting to rescue her. He sends Ada Wong (Li Bingbing) and Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) to get the job done, marking their long awaited introduction to the series. Our heroes spend the next hour trying to escape the enormous underwater Umbrella facility, while turncoat Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) sends countless soldiers, zombies, and monsters after them. Once again, the film ends on a ludicrous cliffhanger, claiming that "this is only the beginning of our fight..." Ugh. Seriously, can we finally put this series to rest, or at least push it in a more reasonable direction?

There have only been a handful of movies that I've considered walking out of, and this is one of them. The writing is painfully bad and the level of incompetence on display is staggering. Thankfully, Milla is delightful as always and continues to be fun to watch. She handles her action scenes with authority and conviction, and is pretty much the only reason to suffer through this thoughtless and derivative mess. Her skintight Umbrella combat uniform is pretty attractive, but her boots are downright hideous. THE WEDGE MUST DIE. Why do action actresses insist on wearing this disgusting style? I was hoping this fad would end years ago, but much like the "Resident Evil" series, it just won't go away.

For reasons that are too stupid to mention, Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Carlos (Oded Fehr), and several other minor players have been resurrected and drafted into Jill Valentine's army, making it a virtual Resident Evil Family Reunion. Only Claire and Chris Redfield are missing from the gang. Beautiful Li Bingbing gives a strong and solid performance as Ada Wong, but is heavily and unconvincingly dubbed throughout. I have to give props to director Paul Anderson for actually getting her costume correct, but it's laughably inappropriate and out of place compared to all of the other characters. Jill Valentine's outfit is also laughably out of place, offering a distracting amount of cleavage and looking suspiciously like Nina Williams from "Tekken." It also conveniently exposes the ONE weak spot on her entire body. Some familiar monsters show up, including the Goliath from "Resident Evil 4" and a new kind of super Licker. The zombies this time are actually highly evolved and overly energetic combat troops, but fortunately for our heroes, their aim is unbelievably bad. I suppose trying to acquire a target through decaying eyeballs would be a challenge, but with the ridiculous amount of bullets flying around you'd think their chances of getting lucky with a stray shot would be pretty high.

The movie has not an ounce of common sense and the story is nothing more than one long chase between point A and point B. That's not necessarily a bad plot device, but there's no attempt at making it logical or self-consistent. The entire thing is a tiresome chore to get through, but right when you think it's over, it actually becomes somewhat interesting (hence the reluctantly optional 2-star rating). Alice and Jill have a visually and physically impressive one-on-one showdown, showing off some nice choreography and stuntwork. Their battle is relentlessly brutal and hard hitting, and the two women are commendably convincing. And then there's Michelle Rodriquez, who faces off with Luther and Leon in a dazzling display of aggressive violence. I have no doubt that she could kick someone's ass into next week in real life. But then as soon as this martial arts goodness is done, the film spirals into contrived silliness again. As much as I hate to say it, this movie is nearly indistinguishable from Uwe Boll's oeuvre, albeit with higher production values. I find that very distressing, and I hope this downward trend doesn't continue.

The final insult is that someone decided to use a low-res version of the Constantin Film logo in the closing credits, which looks hilariously bad. Really? Did no one do quality control on this film? Or do they just assume that no one is actually going to watch the credits? Inexcusable. I almost wonder if Paul Anderson made this film bad on purpose in the hopes that he won't be asked to make another one.