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Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Resident Evil: Retribution</strong> (2012)

(On Cable TV, June 2013) As an unlikely casual fan of the Resident Evil series (I liked the first one, hated the second one, tolerated the third before the fourth hooked me again), I’m better-disposed than most in liking a new installment in the series, and Retribution does deserve a bit of love despite some basic problems.  For fans of the series, the best thing about this fifth entry is the way it dares bring back past elements such as Michelle Rodriguez (who, in-between this and Fast Six, seems to be on her “Hey, world, remember me?” tour) and a glimpse at the protagonist’s pre-zombie suburban days.  The film winks at its own mythology, and has the most obvious nods at its video-game origins by explicitly setting the story in discrete “levels”.  Much of the series’ motifs are also in place, from the way the opening sequence quickly riffs off the ending of the previous film, to the final apocalyptic shot meant to set up the next installment.  Milla Jovovich is also up to her usual standards, which is always good news.  There’s a lot to smile about here, and that’s even before getting into director Paul W.S. Anderson’s impeccable visual composition.  At times, Retribution is so beautifully shot as to approach art-house levels of cinematography: Witness the opening “backward” battle, the stark white-hallway fight, the New York sequence or the presentation of the secret base in which everything takes place.  Given this, it’s regrettable that the film isn’t quite as good as it could be: some of the action scenes are meaningless, Rodriguez isn’t used as effectively as she could be, and there’s no escaping a sense of repetition among the chaos and explosions.  Still, the visuals make up for many sins, and so I am really looking forward to the sixth installment.