Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Boris Kodjoe
Running Time: 96 min
Release: 27 September
Any honest evaluation of Resident Evil: Retribution would, to paraphrase Wilfrid Sheed, be like tripping someone really short. What’s the point? It’s got no chance. It’s terrible. If you’re not already the sort of person who’s planning to see Resident Evil, anything I say isn’t going to convince you. If you are, it’s likely that you’ve already stopped reading. Those polysyllables at the start really threw you, right?
I’m joking, of course. Today’s zombie film connoisseur is typically a smart ironist with an eyebrow arched higher than one of Alice’s bicycle kicks. Resident Evil: Retribution, despite being tenaciously dumb, vacuous and utterly without anything to recommend it, is already beloved by many zombie film fans. The film’s characterless characters, its placeholder-y narrative, its general emptiness; these are all thought to comprise a devastating criticism of today’s media culture.
Cannily noticing a correspondence between the directors’ names, commentators have even seen fit to compare Resident Evil favourably with a forthcoming film by a rather better-regarded P. Anderson. They insist that the one with the speedy zombies is more in touch with contemporary civilization’s discontents than the one with all the Oscar nominees. This is all OK with me. Zombie films were born political. But such self-righteousness, in the face of totally negligible artistic value, makes me want to trip that short person, and stamp on him a bit.
There is chatter about the film’s “beautiful emptiness,” even though all but a handful of shots are get-the-most-gore-in workmanlike. And the dumb dialogue isn’t any better because it’s aware that it’s dumb; smart schoolchildren give wrong answers for laughs, but that doesn’t make them right. I will quote, more or less in full, the words exchanged over a particularly rotten ten minutes: “This way!” “Be strong!” “C’mon – move!” Need I even mention that there are three enigmatic prologues? And that the film doesn’t even really end? That there’ll be at least one more sequel? It’s enough to make you want to trip someone up.