luther_west.jpgBy KIMBERLY GRANT

In Resident Evil: Retribution, the fifth installment of the Resident Evil franchise.

Alice (played by Milla Jovovich) teams up with some old and new friends — Ada Wong (Bingbing Li), Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory), Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) and Leon Kennedy (Johann Urb) — to fight the Umbrella Corporation, its child-ike Red Queen and all of the disgusting mutants it has spawned over the past four films.

As Alice takes a trip down memory lane and fights off the zombies, it feels like screenwriter/director Paul W. S. Anderson has duped his audience into thinking they are going to the theater to see the final chapter in the franchise; the story that will make it all make sense.

What audiences are getting is just another piece of the greedy puzzle that is this franchise. Each time one thinks they are going to see an ending to Resident Evil, Anderson leaves the audience with a cliffhanger, harkening to yet another sequel.

But, how many more stories are there to tell of Alice’s journey? In Retribution, Alice “learns” more about herself, at the cost of being even more confused than when she started. Just when one thinks all the questions are answered, another previously dead character pops up and brings more questions.

ZOMBIE KARMA

It’s understandable that Anderson is trying to milk this franchise for all its worth; he’s got to make his money somehow. If only the film were better than having Anderson, no stranger to writing cheesy action films – think Death Race – rehash the first four films.  Revisiting scenes and characters can be good, especially when it’s been a long time since the audience has seen them.  However, this installment should not have been made.

The only decent thing about Retribution is its halfhearted attempt to make a comment on westernized countries that are constantly trying to find heinous ways of eliminating their enemies. Think of it as Anderson saying the global zombie outbreak is just karma for all of the countries that are trying to kill each other off and take their land.

This action/sci-fi film with its fright night tactics is not the right forum for such discourse. The people going to see Retribution are most likely not concerned with social commentary about using biological weapons to fight a war on terror. They just want to see zombies get killed and things blow up.

ACTION WOMEN

Jovovich proves she’s still a hero to root for and looks awesome in a leather suit. Rather than slowing down as she gets older, it almost seems as if she’s getting better with age. But at some point Jovovich needs a film that will challenge her acting prowess and not just her fighting skills.

Guillory, Rodriguez, and Li prove to be quite adept at being action stars, just like Jovovich. It’s always a good thing when the women are not only the scariest creatures in the film, but the heroes of the day. Props goes to Li for kicking butt in a gown with a thigh-high split and uncomfortable looking pumps.  Not many can pull that obvious male fantasy off and fight the bad guys at the same time.

Misgivings aside, fans of the Resident Evil franchise who are itching to see what little development there is in Alice’s journey will find Retribution to be a gem. The rest of us will have to pretend we didn’t see blood, guts, and general nastiness in 3D.