Her name is Alice. She used to be the head of security at a secret underground facility for the evil Umbrella Corporation. The apocalypse outside? All those zombies and monsters trying to eat any human being left alive? Yeah, Umbrella did that.
The above is your abridged version of the intro Alice (Milla Jovovich) gives in each of the five “Resident Evil” movies. You are now allowed to arrive 25 minutes late (20 minutes of previews and other stuff plus the first five minutes of the movie) to the latest “Resident Evil” installment, “Resident Evil: Retribution.” You’ll still be up to speed.
Now, to backtrack for just a second, my wife and I did our homework before taking in “Retribution.” I had already seen all the movies, but she had not. Over the course of 48 hours we watched them in order: “Resident Evil” (2002), “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” (2004), “Resident Evil: Extinction” (2007) and Resident Evil: Afterlife” (2010). Re-watching them reminded me that the storylines don’t matter. Not really.
Paul W.S. Anderson wrote all five and with “Retribution” he has now directed three. They’re based on a video game and that ranges from obvious to painfully obvious depending on which one you’re watching. That’s actually a good thing. When a movie is based on a video game, we as an audience should know exactly what we’re paying good money for. And, again, it ain’t the (never ever in your life) Oscar winning screenplay.
What “Retribution” offers, what the first four offered as well, is action. Lots and lots of action. Lots and lots (too much, actually, in “Retribution”) of slow motion heroic shots. Lots and lots and lots – majority of the movie – of Milla Jovovich being such a bad-meaning-awesome action star that it literally makes me giggle. Seriously, all five movies made me inadvertently giggle in amazement at some point over how much of a badass Jovovich is on screen.
Nothing else matters. If you think otherwise, then I think there is roughly any-and-every-single-other movie out right now that would suit you better. Or maybe you can just save yourself some money and talk to an empty chair. I hear some people are into that.
Are there problems with “Resident Evil: Pick Any One You Want”?
Um, yes. That’s like asking if there have been problems with the replacement refs so far in the NFL season.
Examples: By my count, the main bad guy (Wesker) has been killed‚ — and we’re talking shot in head, blown up, blown up again — at least three times. Yet, he’s back for “Retribution.” Alice, for her part, seems the opposite of surprised. She even promises to kill him (again). Also, in either “Extinction” or “Afterlife” (they do start to blend together) we are introduced to a mind-control tool the bad guys use. It’s a robotic spider that attaches itself to your chest and you, in turn, then become a bad guy. Until, you know, that spider is removed. Then you’re good again. Alice knows this. Still, in the way too long final fight scene of “Retribution,” she allows her friend-turned-foe (Sienna Guillory), who is sporting said robotic spider on her chest, to kick the bejeezus out of her for several slow-motion minutes before she finally decides to rip the spider off.
Oh, and then there’s the main complaint my wife had throughout the franchise: Heels. As in, why is Alice wearing heels all the time? That’s her choice for post-apocalyptic battles with zombies and monsters? Really?
Then there’s the somewhat suspicious need to feature, I believe at some point in every movie, Alice waking up alone and confused somewhere inside Umbrella. Always naked except for, essentially, large paper towels taped haphazardly over her torso. It’s like Anderson has a crush on Jovovich or something. I mean, c’mon dude!
What’s that? They’re married? Oh.
Look, “Retribution” is probably my least favorite of the five so far (that’s right, I said “so far”). Still, her name is Alice. She wears heels. And she kicks so much zombie and monster butt it’ll make you giggle with joy.
That’s all you need to know.