Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Penultimate Project Alice?

Well, writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson has done it again. He has managed to surpass every other film in the Resident Evil franchise. With what appears to be the run up to Resident Evil 6 (projected for 2014) he and his partner Milla Jovovich as Alice have proven that science fiction escapism is still fun and may possibly end after “Resi Evil 6” hits our screens.

When Resident Evil premiered in 2002 it was met with mixed reactions. Quite a few fans of the game disliked the film and pretty much disowned it. But what Anderson did then (and is still doing) was to tap into the escapist nature of the game and recreate the verse in a parallel line that used the game as a blueprint but did not follow the game’s plotline religiously.

The introduction of Milla as Alice in the first film allowed us to see this new character as a blend of the different “heroes” of the game verse. With the information that she had been exposed to the T-virus and that her cells had merged and mutated with it; the film gave us a heroine that would continue to adapt as each film came out.

And adapt she certainly has. In the first film, Alice has lost her memory as a result of exposure to a nerve gas. She finds out that she has certain “capabilities” that are obviously second nature to her, memory or not. She turns out to be pretty “kick-ass” and this trend carries on through each film.

Alice gun’s blazing at the beginning of the film.

In the fourth film, arch-villain Wesker (head of the Umbrella Corporation) takes away her “powers” and she is left to continue without her added strength and computer hacking ability. Despite having her “mojo” taken away from her, Alice is still a strong and capable protagonist able to face Umbrella and a multitude of virus infected zombies.

The beginning of Retribution features a slow motion “rewind” of events that take place after the end of the fourth film in the franchise (Resident Evil: Afterlife) when the events reach the “actual” end of the fourth film and the opening credits have finished we see Alice blown off the ship  into the ocean. Fade to black.

When Alice awakes, she is married to Todd/Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr ) and they have a hearing impaired daughter, Becky (Aryana Engineer) it is all happy families until a zombie attacks Todd. Becky and Alice flee. They bump into a young woman, Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez) who tells the two to get in her car. They drive off and the car is hit by a cement truck. Both Alice and Becky escape. Alice tells Becky to hide and she gets attacked by zombie Todd.

Alice wakes up in an Umbrella holding cell and is being interrogated by Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory). A computer hacker causes the mainframe to shut down and Alice escapes.

Watching this film was like attending a Resident Evil family reunion. Michelle Rodriguez, Colin Salmon, Boris Kodjoe, Sienna Guillory, and Shawn Roberts (as the Wesker replacement from Resi Evil Afterlife) all show up for a real mind-blowing experience. The addition of game regulars Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) and Ada Wong (Bingbing Li) added to the fun. Even a few of the franchise’s secondary characters make a reappearance.

A quick word about Bingbing Li: I first saw the Hong Kong actress in the 2008 film The Forbidden Kingdom. The casting God’s must have realized even then that she was perfect to play Ada Wong. No one could have managed to look so much like the game character let alone bring her so brilliantly to life.

Ada Wong aka Bingbing Li. She could have been born to play Ada.

While I’m ladling out praise, I have to say that Johann Urb was very, very good as Leon and Michelle Rodriguez played two completely different versions of herself. Rodriguez played her stereotypical badass and a peace-loving non-violent gun protester. Of course Milla Jovovich continues to knock it out of the park as Alice, growing in different ways with each film.

The setting (or settings) of the film was epic in design and proportion. The CGI was faultless and the wire work seamless. The choreography for the action and fight scenes was impressive, none more so than the final fight at the end of the film. That fight alone was worth the price of admission and so worth waiting for.

The added touch of having old (and dead) characters reappear was spot-on and gave a new dimension to the film. Sadly I never got to see the film in 3D at the cinema, but looking at it in glorious Blu-ray 2D still gave an idea of how it must have looked. I can only hope that the film gets a re-release in the near future or that I suddenly become rich enough to buy all the 3D gear for my house.

With the ending of this film so clearly making way for the sixth in the series you have to ask if that will be the last one. I am sure that they could keep making these films until Alice starts kicking zombie butt from her wheelchair but, logically, I think ‘6’ will be that last. Here’s hoping that the next film is as good as this one was.

In a 5 star rating system, I’d have to give Resident Evil: Retribution a 6 for full-scale, Capcom style escapism. It is definitely a film to own; even more so if you had the cash to have all the 3D gear on hand.


Milla teaching Michelle Rodriquez how to shoot. Priceless.

Author: Mike's Film Talk

Former Actor, Former Writer, Former Journalist, USAF Veteran, Former Member Nevada Film Critics Society

9 thoughts on “Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Penultimate Project Alice?”

  1. 6 out of 5? I just can’t except that! Apart from the visuals this film was appalling. I liked Event Horizon and the first one of these but each one since has gotten steadily worse. Concluding with this steaming pile! 😀


    1. Even though I cannot see how anyone could NOT like the film, we all have different tastes, if we did not the world would soon be a very boring place indeed. Thanks for sharing your viewpoint mate. 🙂


  2. Great review Mike, I’m working my way backwards through them as I’ve been A.W.O.R a while!

    Bingbing Li is certainly the best casting decision they ever made for this series, but there is random bit of trivia you may not know which is kinda cool.

    Some of her dialog was actually overdubbed by Sally Cahill; the original voice of Ada Wong (replaced by Courtnay Taylor for 6). You can see this on some of the making of extras. The fact they they brought in the official voice actress for the time (at the time) was a really nice touch.

    I’m curious to see who they will bring in for 6, the face models used for the characters in that game were all actors/models so perhaps Anderson will hire some of them for added authenticity?


    1. It’s funny you mentioned the voice-over bit, we were watching the film and suddenly Meg turned to me and went they’ve dubbed Bingbing’s voice! We had heard her speak English on the special features for Forbidden Kingdom and knew that she did not speak the lingo that clearly. Yeah it would be nice to see some of the “real” actors get into the the film. 😀


  3. I LOVE Resident Evil series…some were not as good but man this one seriously kicked ass. I’m looking forward to the new one. I think I wrote a super long review back when I saw it in theatres last year. It was just so fun and entertaining. Anderson has done a lot of stuff that I like and I’m especially impressed with the Resident Evils that he directed. Those really have a special Alice magic to it.
    And after watching my boyfriend play Res 6 on PS3, I can tell you, Bingbing Li as Ada and Johann Urb as Leon really is awesome for those roles!
    Awesome review! 🙂


  4. I always quite liked Anderon’s film Event Horizon and I see you reviewed that also. I’ve seen all the resi films before this but have yet to see this one – I’ll have to give it a go. 🙂


    1. I’ve become a fan of Anderson’s and probably because of Event Horizon. I think he’s really got his stuff together as a director. I loved Resi Evil Retribution, if you watch it let me know what you think! 🙂


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