Resident Evil: Retribution

Director: Paul W. S. Anderson
Writer: Paul W. S. Anderson
Milla Jovovich
Sienna Guillory
Michelle Rodriguez
Bingbing Li
Johann Urb

Media reviewed: 3D – In Theatre

I’ve always liked Paul Anderson. EVENT HORIZON is a stroke of genius, and there aren’t many people who, at the mention of that film, don’t respond with: “Event Horizon! I loved that movie!” It’s a valid statement since the flick manages to so beautifully twist sci-fi and horror together — I’ve always said it was like “Hellraiser in space” (…of course, HELLRAISER 4 was legitimately that, but I digress). I’ve liked Paul Anderson ever since I saw the original MORTAL KOMBAT, and it’s been fun watching his filmmaking style evolve over the years, despite what critics may say.

RESIDENT EVIL, however, has been a hodgepodge series marked by a string of sequels that range drastically in quality. When the first film was released, as a fan of the video game series, I couldn’t help but be let down. In the place of a dusty old mansion and an undead ass-kicking Jill Valentine, there were sleek high-tech gizmos, a holographic sass-talking British girl, and some gal in a red dress named Alice. However, the film grew on me, and while it wasn’t a true faithful re-enactment of the game, it still had enough heart to warrant additional replays; over time I developed a real soft spot for it. Of course, as the sequels came around, more and more of the original game characters were introduced, and even some of the iconic monsters were pitted against our valiant heroes. Half the time when these monsters appeared they seemed to challenge all logic or movie continuity — but really, who cared? These movies are made for fans of the games, even if it didn’t necessarily start off that way.

RETRIBUTION is the fifth film in the series, and I’ll admit: it’s my favourite. Over the course of his career, I feel that Paul Anderson has been striving to make a true video-game movie, and I think in RETRIBUTION he was finally able to fully realize his vision. I mean, it really is like watching a live-action video game, and gamers will recognize how the plot is broken down into a set of solo (and co-op) missions and stages, all clearly defined by different characters and challenging boss battles. And it’s not just the Resident Evil game franchise that’s referenced, it’s the entire zombie-gaming sub-genre. One of my favourite scenes features a Call of Duty homage, wherein Leon Kennedy and his friends are forced to survive wave-after-wave of Nazi Zombies. Does it sound ridiculous? It is, and frankly, it’s awesome.

In my defence, this isn’t my most critical review. It’s the review of a fanboy, who loves the video games and was finally satisfied to see all his favourite characters (Leon Kennedy FTW!) run around and do what they do best: kill a helluva lot of zombie bastards. As a plus for the movie franchise, it manages to do all of this and still further the overall story arc of the series — uniting Alice, Jill, Leon, Ada, and Wesker as unlikely allies as they struggle to make a final stand against the zombie apocalypse.

The franchise still has a place to go, and Paul Anderson admitted that should they receive the greenlight to make a sixth film, it will be the concluding chapter (but since the game franchise is still going strong and the state of the Hollywood film industry, who knows… perhaps a remake of the original film isn’t far behind?) Either way, it’s been a fun ride, and I for one look forward to a balls-to-the-wall epic finale, should it ever happen. But if not, I’ll always have RETRIBUTION: what I will forever consider to be the first authentic video-game-to-film adaptation. For that, I applaud Mr. Paul Anderson.