In the original “Resident Evil,” we were introduced to Alice (Milla Jovovich), a pretty thin girl who awakens in a secret lab run by the ominous Umbrella Corporation, where a bio-weapon fuck-up has unleashed an army of undead ghouls and goo-dripping monsters. Since then, it has been discovered that she is also some kind of bio-weapon, that she was cloned (or something), and that the Umbrella Corporation is really, really, ridiculously evil. The scale, supposedly, has been upped as the series has strolled along too, with the outbreak consuming the entire planet, but Anderson almost always chooses to stage action sequences in dimly lit hallways so you can never really tell the true scope of the zombie-pocalypse. The mythology of the series has gotten gummier and harder to untangle, so thankfully “Resident Evil: Retribution” (the subtitle is totally meaningless, and suggests some kind of revenge subplot that is never accounted for) opens with a recap of the events of the previous films in true Basil Exposition form – Milla Jovovich is looking at the camera while little monitors show scenes from earlier movies. Like most of the movie, it’s laughably clunky but not in any kind of cathartic, good-natured way.
In “Resident Evil: Retribution,” Alice is forced to make an uneasy alliance with Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), the limp villain from the previous movies and former head of the Umbrella Corporation, who wears sunglasses inside and looks and acts a whole lot like a slightly more menacing Max Headroom. Alice is, apparently, trapped in an underwater research facility where Umbrella would test out different scenarios of the zombie virus – so there are giant warehouses that are exact replicas of Moscow, New York, etc. Assisted by a handful of mercenary types that Wesker has sent in from the surface, including an actual guy from “Lost” (Kevin Durand, who played the villainous Keamy) and another guy who you sense the filmmakers are trying to trick you into thinking is a guy from “Lost” (Johann Urb, who looks suspiciously like Josh Holloway’s Sawyer). There are also a whole bunch of characters from the earlier movies, including Michelle Rodriguez, Oded Fehr and Colin Salmon, but this doesn’t really matter because you can’t remember those earlier movies and who their characters were and because, in this movie, they’re evil versions or clones or some bullshit.
Not even the considerable charm of Ms. Jovovich, who is wearing a buckled jumpsuit that looks like it came out of YSL’s Nazi fetish fall collection, can salvage this wreckage. For some reason, towards the third act, Anderson just says “fuck it” and starts ripping off James Cameron’s “Aliens” for no good reason. What’s weird is that Anderson, who directed the abominable “Alien vs. Predator” movie, doesn’t just rip off the monster stuff from “Aliens,” but he also tries to replicate the relationship in that movie between battle-hardened Ripley and Newt, a young girl and surrogate for Ripley’s long-lost daughter. What’s even weirder is that the young girl in “Resident Evil: Retribution” is a clone, and at one point the little girl and Alice are in a giant warehousesurrounded by conveyer belts shuttling clones of themselves through open space (it looks very much like the door chase sequence in “Monsters Inc.”). All the “Aliens” beats are accounted for in this section, including putting the little clone girl in a glistening egg for reasons that we still can’t figure out. It’s a testament to the movie’s lack of creativity that Anderson can’t even rip off “Aliens” and have it come across as anything less than totally boring. But don’t worry, by the looks of things, Alice will be back for more. We can hardly wait. [D-]