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Resident Evil: Retribution

Most action filmmakers are lucky to generate as much sheer razzle-dazzle in the course of an entire movie as Paul W.S. Anderson gets into the first five minutes of Resident Evil: Retribution, running the opening set piece in voluptuous reverse slow-motion, with spent shell casings leaping back into pistols and shock troops slurped skyward by helicopters. The fifth entry in the Resident Evil franchise and the third directed by Anderson—one of the few filmmakers who makes 3-D worth the glasses rental fee—Retribution 3-D picks up where 2010’s Afterlife 3-D left off, with Milla Jovovich’s Alice in a pitched battle with the insidious Umbrella Corporation’s forces. Captured, Alice awakens in one of those underground compounds of which Anderson is hopelessly fond, a proving grounds test facility made up of “stages” through which she must escape by passing through a series of one-upping trapeze-act combat numbers toward a rendezvous point with allies. A submerged world of soundstage set pieces populated by rudimentarily human cloned dummies, Umbrella’s universe is essentially that of Anderson, whose lavish visual imagination is matched to a placeholder idea of character that’s almost avant-garde in its generic stylization, dialogue buffed of personality by passing through 10,000 previous movies. Diagramming every revolution of Jovovich in wheeling and whirling action, however, Anderson is pitch-perfect when singing the body electric, and it’s impossible to call any movie whose finale incorporates nuclear submarines and a zombie feeding frenzy in arctic waters less than a triumph of the human spirit. Nick Pinkerton

 
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