Resident Evil: Retribution is a trailer for itself. There are no parts of this movie that are not trailer-worthy. The movie is all one good part and all the good parts are terrible.
It is all the cool bits of an action movie surgically separated and then strung together with the loosest of threads. It is a single 90-minute fight scene with occasional minute-long pauses where people try to out-act each other through the medium of shouting the loudest. It is the film equivalent of pop rocks. Of a bag of confectioner’s sugar left open on the side next to a mouth-wide spoon. Of a dog chasing a steak tied to its own arse.
Mila Jovovich has two costumes throughout most of the film and they are:
An outfit made entirely of belts that was stored in the wall of her giant holding cell for reasons best known to the Umbrella Corporation OR
Two sheets of A3 paper stuck over her torso
Mila Jovovich plays Alice because that is apparently what Mila Jovovich does these days, she’s cryogenically frozen in some basement in LA and thawed out once every two years to stomp around a set in time with ill-fitting rock guitar music and kill things using two guns at once
Alice is in an underwater testing facility in which Umbrella have built fully-realised versions of the centres of Moscow, Berlin, New York and Tokyo BECAUSE OF REASONS. Albert Wesker decides to help her out (because of REASONS) and sends forward Ada Wong, a woman who acts as though the mice in her head have chewed all the labels off the control levers and couldn’t read them in the first place anyway.
Ada Wong has infiltrated the giant Rapture/VR Rig/Crystal Maze facility whilst wearing a thigh-slit red dress and heels because she wore that in a game once and SHUT UP. She and Mila power towards a rendezvous with the other half of their team, fronted up by Leon Kennedy and Barry what’s-his-name from the early games. From here they will escape to SOMEWHERE because WE SAID SO.
That is the plot of this film. The plot of this film is Woman Who Can Fight Good put in Situation That Needs Fighting At. The reason for the actions is FIGHTING and all the actions performed in the film are FIGHTING.
Leon and Barry and friends are terrible from soup to nuts and don’t even get to do all that flippy spinny shit that Mila pulls off on the daily, just gunplay and shouting and mangling even the most basic of sentences in their big muscly mouths full of white teeth. Leon’s 90’s hair is now officially daft and the one time Barry tries acting you can see the tension in his facial muscles from the strain like he’s trying to pass a tennis ball or something.
Anyway our heroes are fighting through various reproductions of capital cities when Umbrella security show up fronted by the now mind-controlled Jill Valentine. Jill Valentine acts as though she was programmed on the C64 Spectrum. Like acting was something she overheard mentioned in a park and decided to have a go.
She continually frowns in the manner of someone trying to read a menu written in a foreign language. Many of her lines consist of her shouting things that the audience has already seen written on the screen. She could quite happily be replaced with a pair of tits hot-glued to the front of a hoover.
And throughout, fighting. All the fighting all the time. The fighting never stops. This is hyperactive stuff; it feels like falling downstairs forever whilst screaming but on a screen, if you get me. There are chain fights and pick fights and gun fights and fire fights and fights in houses and fights in lifts and fights in corridors and fights in cars on stairwells in the Russian underground system.
Around 60% of this film is in slow-motion. Whenever Mila wants to get away from something, which is fairly often as this is a film that consists of her getting away from things, the camera slows and we can see every pore of Mila Jovovich’s Acting Face #3: Frantic looky-back running, which follows #1 Serious looking at the Camera Exposition and #2 Smiley Happy Family Time in her range of faces.
So much of this film is in slow motion that if the entire thing ran at normal speed it would be around 15 minutes long. 10 minutes of that would be Mila running directly into camera looking worried and staggering away from her problems.
Much of the film focuses around clones of previous characters because this movie is a fucking grab-bag of all the dross that’s gone before it; it’s taken whatever it wants and shaken it over everything like the blue packet in a bag of Salt n’ Shake. This is Salt n’ Shake cinema. This is cinema made from sprinkles. A cut-up masterpiece without the subversive edge. Michelle Rodriguez plays a pacifist character for a while and then her clone shows up but her clone is a BADASS and shoots rockets into houses and the rockets become SMALLER ROCKETS which are somehow MORE EXPLOSIVE presumably due to a COMBO MULTIPLIER.
We never get the chance to see Michelle Rodriguez fight Michelle Rodriguez which is a missed opportunity I feel
Anyway CLONES and it’s revealed that Umbrella tested their bioweapons out in this underwater facility because all their financial decisions are apparently made by a board of bizarre crystalline wizards from SPACE and you start to wonder about three things:
ONE Why are people still working for Umbrella after they’ve literally reduced the human race to a handful of survivors huddling in Washington DC
TWO If these people are mind-programmed clones then why doesn’t Umbrella just focus on creating an army of fiercely loyal clone supersoliders and not worry about the whole “ambulatory bioweapons” hornswaggle
THREE Do they get in contractors to rebuild the sets after each bioweapons test because the call-out fees to Northern Russia must be pretty exorbitant
Anyway. The film spunks its way to an end, eventually, never pausing once to catch its ragged breath. Here are six things that the climactic fight scene contains:
ONE The top 10% of an Umbrella-branded nuclear submarine
TWO Over three hundred individual punches
THREE Three mid-fight X-ray shots of bones breaking
FOUR A parasite that makes you invincible if it crawls into your neck
FIVE Ada Wong falling over
SIX A seventy-man zombie synchronised swim team
This film is joyous. This film is vapid. This film is packing foam for other films. This film is a patchwork of perfectly servicable action scenes with no grounding and no payoff and no conclusion. This film is a glorious mess, like slapping two pizzas on top of each other and claiming it’s a new kind of sandwich even as tomato sauce runs down your shirt.
At the end of the film all surviving characters stand on the roof of the white house and look out over the ruins of America and horde of undead mutants shambling towards them and Wesker says that this is humanity’s last stand and for the love of God stop making these films