Umbrella Corporation—the agency responsible for unleashing a horrific virus upon the world that turned pretty much everyone into flesh-hungry zombies four films ago—finally has its chief nemesis where it wants her. As the fifth installment in this decade-long franchise gets rolling, long-suffering heroine Alice finds herself captured, stripped nearly naked and at the full mercy of that evil organization.
The agency is being run by an evil (did I mention yet that it was evil?) computer program known as the Red Queen. And "she's" determined to wipe out what remains of humanity by turning the race's few survivors into mutated undead monsters. Why? Um. Well. It's because … er, actually, maybe it's better not to ask too many existential questions. This is a shoot-'em-up actioner based on a series of video games. That's answer enough, isn't it?
Alice is being held, we learn, in a former Soviet submarine base off the coast of Kamchatka (Risk board game players will recognize the location) that's since been expanded significantly. Its purpose: to grow clones of humans, some of which are turned into zombies, some of which play the role of victims as Umbrella Corp. stages zombie invasions in virtual mock-ups of Moscow, New York, Tokyo and a generic suburban environment. The purpose of such macabre massacres? To sell the warmongering benefits of the virus to all the big world powers. They all bought it, of course—right before the human race itself pretty much bought it.
Alice is soon freed by former foe Ada Wong, who's working on behalf of another bad guy turned (sorta) good guy Albert Wesker. Together, Alice and Ada are tasked with rendezvousing with a five-man rescue team that's been inserted to extract them. All they have to do is fight their way through all of the zombie-filled versions of the cities listed above (stand-ins for game levels) while avoiding Resident Evil alumni Jill Valentine (who's now controlled by the Red Queen through a creepy spider-like robot that nestles on her throat) and Rain (who's especially nasty when she injects herself with a new virus that makes her virtually unstoppable).
Did I mention the throngs of evil zombies yet?
As has been the case from the beginning, Alice is determined to thwart Umbrella Corp. and do what she can to save humanity. This time she's joined in that effort by Ada, a brave rescue crew of five soldiers, and the mercurial Wesker, who has styled himself as humanity's would-be savior this time around. All of them (except Wesker, of course) bravely risk everything to save one another.
The closest thing to poignant the film offers is an interplay between Alice and a young orphaned deaf girl named Becky. Becky thinks Alice is her mother (her confusion comes from her being the daughter of an Alice clone), and Alice lives up to the girl's hopes. When she and Becky stumble into the outright unnerving clone factory and witness hundreds of versions of themselves being manufactured side by side, Becky says to Alice, "You're not my mommy, are you?" To which Alice replies, "I am now," an adoptive vow she makes good on for the balance of the film as she determines to make sure the youngster gets out of the underwater complex alive. Responding to a pragmatist who wants her to ditch the kid, telling her that she's "more important," Alice shoots right back, "That's where you're wrong."
After being captured by Umbrella, Alice awakens in a high-tech holding cell wearing just two squares of gauzy material, one on her front and one on her back. The squares barely cover her chest and crotch. The sides of her breasts and all of her legs are visible for quite some time. Once she escapes, she's clad in formfitting black leather and spandex, while Ada's and Jill's outfits reveal quite a bit of cleavage.
A scene between a suburban man and his wife features them flirting and teasing each other. She slaps him playfully on the rump. One of the rescuers puts his hand suggestively on Ada's thigh. She removes it.
Particularly wince-inducing is a scene in which Alice unloads her pistol at multiple zombies' heads at close, executioner range, producing a brazenly bloody bath of red. It's one of dozens of brutally bombastic combat scenes that are stylized and romanticized to the point of becoming balletic. Zombies and humans get mowed down with bullets almost continuously with true third-person shooter effect—even down to the big boss battles at the end of each level/scene.
Zombies are also set on fire, clocked with a swinging chain and lock (several times in the mouth), smashed off motorcycles, blown up and wiped out by flooding seawater, among other things. A lengthy and ferocious car chase involves multiple crashes, gunfire and rocket-propelled grenades.
Martial arts melees are almost as frequent as the gun battles, with fierce punches and kicks getting administered and received by almost everyone. Necks are graphically broken. Bodies are impaled. And a zombie wields the infamous Resident Evil chain saw, using it to send gore flying. A particularly bloodthirsty young female zombie attacks a man's neck and comes away with her face covered in blood.
Rain, who is practically Terminator-esque in terms of her invulnerability, absorbs multiple bullets and savage blows to the face (delivered with a fire extinguisher). Several internal, CSI-like close-ups are shown of bones breaking and hearts stopping.
A massive monster kidnaps Becky and encases her in a (Aliens-inspired?) cocoon/egg sack. To get the girl back, Alice unloads a clip into the beast's exposed brain. Some of the zombies sport nasty, toothy tentacles coming out of their mouths, which they use to disable and devour. Two ogre-like creatures wielding giant axes go after Alice and Ada (then get blown up). A woman is dragged to the bottom of the frozen ocean by a horde of swimming zombies. An aerial invasion of a fuel tanker by troops with helicopter gunships results in myriad explosions and casualties.
Crude or Profane Language
Five or six uses of the s-word. We also hear "h‑‑‑," "p‑‑‑," "b‑‑ch" and "a‑‑."
Drug and Alcohol Content
A guy smokes a cigar—even after he's dead. An ad for Budweiser can be seen on a billboard.
Other Negative Elements
As I sat down to watch this movie—a franchise with as many lives as it has undead villains—I honestly couldn't remember the name of it. I knew it was Resident Evil colon … something. So in my notes I just jotted down Resident Evil: Infinity, because, well, it seems like we've seen this one before.
I soon found out, of course, that the film is actually called Resident Evil: Retribution. But like the three films before it—which, respectively, came with Afterlife , Extinction and Apocalypse after the colon—that titular descriptor doesn't really matter much. They're all pretty much interchangeable.
Actress Milla Jovovich maneuvers violently through a slightly different environment this time but faces the same ol' problem she always has: nasty people, nasty computers and nasty zombies. They all want her dead. The only thing to do? Shoot, kick, punch, shoot, kick, punch, shoot kick, punch … infinity.
A token plot takes shape as familiar characters switch from bad to good and good to bad. Mostly, though, this formulaic franchise is an ongoing excuse for Jovovich to keep wearing skintight spandex and leather (or less) as she blasts zombie brains all over the screen. In fast motion, in slow motion, in medium motion, she unloads lead into the heads of the undead—to predictable effect. It's been said before, but the whole affair has the same soul-numbing familiarity as the Capcom video game that spawned it. The end is never in doubt; the only question is how high the body count is going to be.
The answer? High. Last time. This time. Next time. Infinity.
Other Belief Systems
Readability Age Range
Horror, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Action/Adventure
Milla Jovovich as Alice; Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine; Michelle Rodriguez as Rain; Aryana Engineer as Becky; Bingbing Li as Ada Wong; Boris Kodjoe as Luther West; Johann Urb as Leon S. Kennedy; Robin Kasyanov as Sergei; Kevin Durand as Barry Burton; Ofilio Portillo as Tony; Shawn Roberts as Albert Wesker; Megan Charpentier as The Red Queen; Ave Merson-O'Brian as the voice of The Red Queen
Paul W.S. Anderson (The Three Musketeers, Resident Evil: Afterlife, Death Race, Alien vs. Predator, Resident Evil, Mortal Kombat)
September 14, 2012
Adam R. Holz Adam R. Holz