The film opens up with the final events of the huge battle on the ship Arcadia from the last film, Resident Evil: Afterlife, only it is shown in backwards slo-mo. After a brief rundown of the events of all of the past films by Alice (Milla Jovovich), we get to see the Arcadia events play out and Alice is blown into the water. When she awakens, she has longer, lighter hair and is in her bright and sunny bedroom in a beautiful suburban home. Her husband, Todd, a dead ringer for Carlos Rivera (Oded Fehr) from the earlier films, prompts her to get out of bed and it appears to simply have been a nightmare. Soon, the nightmare comes true when zombies attack the home and she is forced to take her young deaf daughter, Becky (Aryana Engineer) and escape. While fleeing the home, they are picked up by a woman named Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), also in the earlier films, but sadly, it's just not in the cards for Alice to escape her zombie fate. She next awakens in her standard paper dress in an Umbrella facility. What is the dream and what is reality?
Well, as it turns out, Umbrella never learns a lesson and has yet another testing facility underwater in the Arctic and within that facility are "sets" like the suburban paradise of Raccoon City, New York City, Tokyo and the Red Square in Moscow. Here, Umbrella continues its testing to see how clones of its finest team members will react when embedded with basic family memories. Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), no longer in Umbrella's employ, uses powerful asset Ada Wong (Li BingBing) to break Alice out of the facility, but the Red Queen is not going to let their finest creation escape so easily. Even though Wesker has a crack team waiting to rendevous with the dangerous femme fatale pair for extraction, including Leon S. Kennedy (Johann Urb), Barry Burton (Kevin Durand, Lost), Luther West (Boris Kodjoe) previously assumed killed, and Sergei (Robin Kasyanov), their tech specialist, everyone involved will have to face their worst nightmares, including dinosaur-sized lickers, super fast zombies, and Las Plagas infected who can now easily wield weapons of their own.
With cloning in full effect, you'll see familiar faces like the earlier mentioned Rain Ocampo, both as a gun-shy zombie victim and the baddass force to be reckoned with we are used to, the "One" (Colin Salmon) makes a reappearance, and so does Carlos Rivera as both a military drone in Umbrella's army and as Todd in but one of Umbrella's many simulations. It's fun to see old faces return, but a little odd, especially when K-Mart (Spencer Locke), Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller) and Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) from Resident Evil: Afterlife are just never mentioned again following the battle on the Arcadia. It's also really cool to see Milla playing a suburban housewife instead of the resident badass she plays in these films. According to the special features, these were also some of the toughest roles to play since she is not used to running away from the zombies. It was also sweet to see her maternal side, with her onscreen daughter, Becky.
That being said, some of the action sequences are great fun, especially the one that takes place in Tokyo that we saw a bit of in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Here, J-Pop (Mika Nakashima), the catalyst for the Tokyo outbreak, returns in a much bigger and badder role as but one zombie on the attack for Alice. Seeing Alice wield a bike lock and chain while shooting a gun is great fun to behold. It's also nice to see Anderson include videogame fan favorites Ada Wong, Barry Burton ("You were almost a Jill sandwich"), and Leon Kennedy, complete with the same ridiculous haircut.
Resident Evil: Retribution looks spectacular on Blu-ray, especially the scenes with high contrast backgrounds in the blanched Umbrella hallways. Special features include a series of deleted and extended scenes, some amusing outtakes, two commentaries featuring Anderson, as well as cast members and the producer, plus six different featurettes covering everything from the special effects and creatures, to the storyline, the stunts, and the reunion of all of these old characters. Last, there's an interactive database called Project Alice that allows you to get details on all of the creature types featured in the film and the series in general, as well as the human characters. You'll also see snippets of film for each creature/character dating back to the first film, but strangely enough, once again the Redfield clan is left out of the picture. This is quite a shame since they are a driving force in the game series.
Everyone knows I am a fan of the Resident Evil game series, and also of the movies, even though they can be a bit cheesy at times. While I didn't see Resident Evil: Retribution in 3D, there were a number of times when cheesy, in-your-face shots occurred that were clearly for the sake of 3D, and I'm not a fan of this, personally. I enjoyed the film, but when it was over and the next film was set up, it left me with a feeling of "what just happened there - did anything really happen?" It just felt like a 1.5 hour bridge to the next film, despite some of the fun action scenes.
All in all, if you are a fan of the Resident Evil films in general, you'll enjoy the movie. Just don't expect to have a feeling of satisfaction when it's over because it's one giant setup for the next movie.