Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Explained

An Average Movie-Goer’s Review

Spoilers! If you don’t want spoilers – check out the Spoiler-Free post

I love horror movies and if I’m going to watch them anyway, why not write an entertaining/funny review from the POV of an average movie-goer and not a professional critic.

Today we’re looking at the 5th installment of Paul W. S. Anderson’s Resident Evil series: 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution

After Alice (Milla Jovovich) is captured by Umbrella, an old enemy sends a team to break her out but first, they must survive the dangers within the Umbrella facility

Is Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Scary?

Nah, some of the monster designs are pretty gory but if you’ve seen the previous movies, it’s nothing new.

All of our Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil Explanations/Reviews:

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Related Article: Resident Evil: Retribution (2012) Explained

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Plot Synopsis:

Last we left Alice (played by Milla Jovovich) she lost her superpowers and arrives on the ship, Arcadia, with Claire and Chris Redfield (played by Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller respectively). After a fight with Albert Wesker (played by Shawn Roberts), the three heroes free the 2 thousand trapped passengers including K-Mart (played by Spencer Locke), and Alice broadcasts that Arcadia is a safe haven. 

Meanwhile, one of the other survivors who was thought dead, Luther (played by Boris Kodjoe) is revealed to be alive and watches the ship from afar. The film ends as Jill Valentine (played by Sienna Guillory) under mind control by Umbrella leads several dozen helicopters to attack the Arcadia and capture Alice, Chris, and Claire.

We start off this film with sounds of explosions and gunfire as the opening credit roll and we see Alice in the water. We see Jill’s attack play out in slow-motion reverse for some reason and then we watch it all again not in reverse… did we need to fill time or something? 

In between, we get a recap of the previous films from Alice who focuses a lot on the first and fourth films and barely on the second and third films which tell you a lot about how important they are. Cutting back to the attack, an explosion causes Alice to fall into the water and we cut to black.

Alice wakes up in a peaceful home with completely different hair as her husband Carlos, except his name is Todd now (played by Oded Fehr), wakes her up. The previous movies had a lot of clone stuff going on so these might be clones… or the real Alice in a simulation…. or all the previous movies have been a dream. 

Alice, confused, touches her hair while looking at a mirror hinting that this is the real Alice but then acts like nothing is weird so I don’t know what the hell is going on. We learn that Alice and Todd have a deaf daughter Becky (played by Aryana Engineer) as the family prepares for their day.

Todd spills some coffee on his shirt and heads to get a new one but is attacked by a zombie. Alice and Becky barricade themselves in the laundry room as more zombies swarm the house. Using a broom, Alice breaks a hole into the ceiling leading the two up to the attic.

Sneaking out of the attic, the two run into the master bedroom and escape the house through the window. Outside they see the entire neighborhood overrun with zombies and the two are almost hit by a car being driven by Rain (played by Michelle Rodriguez). We don’t actually know if her name is Rain but that’s what it was in the first movie.

Rain tells them to get in the car and they all drive off but are immediately hit by a truck causing the car to flip over. Alice and Becky leave the car and a knocked-out Rain who wakes up as more zombies approach. In a nearby house, Alice and Becky hide in a closet as a majini zombie searches for them.

Alice tells Becky she loves her and then busts out of the closet and pushes the zombie. Alice runs but the zombie catches up to her. She’s able to avoid it and cause it to fall over a banister to its death on the floor below. A zombified Todd randomly appears and attacks Alice as we cut to black. So I guess that wasn’t the real Alice.

Alice is killed by Todd in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
“Why are you looking at me like that, something on my face?”

The real Alice, with plot armor, wakes up in an enclosed room at an umbrella facility with Jill watching her from an observation deck. Jill calls her “Project Alice” and asks why Alice betrayed Umbrella. Alice questions what happened to Chris and Claire but not K-Mart cuz it went out of business and Jill responds with a piercing ringing to torture Alice.

The torture and questioning continues for a while until the power inexplicably goes out. A piece of the wall opens up revealing some new clothes for Alice, that conveniently fit her, and a larger wall opens up allowing Alice to escape the room.   

The power returns and apparently the mind control device on Jill’s chest is powered by the computer because she powers back up and realizes Alice is gone. She then activates a laser grid in the hallway that would 100% kill Alice so I’m wondering why they even kept her alive if they’re trying to kill her now.

Alice runs from the grid and through a door that opens to the empty streets of… Tokyo? Alice finds a police car, breaks in using a nearby bike lock and chain, and steals one of the guns. A computer voice is heard initializing the Tokyo sequence and rain starts to fall as the streets fill with random people.

Alice in the Tokyo simulation in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
Hey Alice, how about trying not to look so suspicious while holding a gun in the middle of the street?

Turns out this “Tokyo sequence” is a recreation of the first scene of the last movie where we saw the outbreak occur in Tokyo four years prior to the start of that film. It plays out exactly the same with a random infected girl attacking and killing a businessman as everyone runs. The streets become infested with zombies and Alice notices a nearby building open up.

I don’t mean its doors open, I mean the building literally splits open in half and it reveals an Umbrella hallway. As zombies give chase, Alice runs into the hallway but several zombies catch up to her. Alice fights them all off using the bike chain and the gun and at this point, I feel the need to re-remind everyone that Alice has no superpowers… yet she can do this:

Alice kills several zombies in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
No momentum, full 360-degree flip while kicking a guy in the face… she does this twice

After killing all those zombies Alice spots hundreds more heading her way and runs into another room that luckily closes as she runs in. The new room is filled with dead security personnel who were not killed by zombies but were instead shot. Alice searches the room and a pillar of guns rises from the floor to her delight.

After grabbing a knife, Ada Wong (played by Bingbing Li) appears and puts a gun to Alice’s back. The two reenact the fight Ada and Leon have in the Resident Evil 4 video game but it’s not as good here. Alice reveals she knows exactly who Ada is, an operative who works for Wesker and Umbrella, but Ada says she and Wesker no longer work for Umbrella.

Wesker appears on one of the computer screens and explains that Ada freed Alice because they need her help. Hey, why did Ada put a gun to Alice’s back upon meeting her instead of literally anything else?

Alice meets Ada Wong played Bingbing Li in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
“What, you don’t greet your friends with violent acts of aggression?”

Wesker tells Alice that she is in an underwater facility in northern Russia under several hundred feet of water and ice. In order to break her out, Ada entered first to free her from her cell while another strike team is currently infiltrating the facility from above ground.

The facility houses several simulation rooms that are replicas of several blocks in Tokyo, Moscow, New York City, and a suburban neighborhood which explains how that room led to Tokyo. In order to test how the virus could spread in different environments, the Umbrella corporation fills the fake streets with clones and then sells the data and virus to countries.  

Above ground, we see Wesker’s strike team arrive consisting of Luther, Leon S. Kennedy (played by Johann Urb), Barry Burton (played by Kevin Durand), Sergei (played by Robin Kasyanov), and Tony (played by Ofilio Portillo) who is barely shown.

The group plant bombs with a 2-hour timer, hack an elevator and head down into the facility. Back with Alice and Ada, Wesker tells them to head through NYC into Suburbia where they’ll meet the strike team. From there they’ll all go through Moscow into the submarine pens and back onto the elevator before the bombs go off.

The Red Queen Artificial Intelligence takes over the call, demands Alice not listen to Wesker, and to not move. Hearing Jill and her security team approaching, Alice decides to leave and the Red Queen states “you’re all going to die down here” in a very forced callback to the first movie.

As Alice and Ada enter NYC, the Red Queen activates the New York sequence which releases two Axemen bioweapons onto the streets. The axemen attack and Alice and Ada both narrowly avoid getting chopped in half.

The Axemen attack Ada and Alice in the New York City simulation in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
The bags on their heads make it really hard to aim

Alice forces one into slicing open a fuel tanker that spills gasoline everywhere. Why do these fake simulations contain tankers with real gasoline in them? Ada leads the other back toward Alice and together they ignite the gasoline causing a taxi cab to explode onto the axemen. 

Meanwhile, Leon’s team heads into Moscow as the Red Queen activates Las Plagas zombies to intercept them. The group gets pinned down by the zombies who shoot at them with automatic weapons and howitzers. Back with Ada and Alice, the two enter the suburban environment and find the house that we saw clone Alice and Becky run into earlier.

Alice finds her dead clone and Ada explains that umbrella uses clones to populate the environments for testing with Alice being one of the clone models. Ada also says that sometimes the Alice clone is a suburban housewife, a banker in NYC, or a soldier working for Umbrella. 

That last one is exactly what Alice has always been, is Ada hinting that Alice is a clone? I’m sure we’ll never get an answer knowing these movies. The two hear noise coming from upstairs and Alice finds Becky who mistakes her for her mom. Alice doesn’t correct her and the three head to Becky’s home for supplies. 

Exiting the house, they find it surrounded by Jill and her security force which includes clones of Rain, Carlos, and Captain Cool from the first movie (played by Colin Salmon).

Alice and Ada open fire and retreat back into the house. Ada gives Alice a pair of glasses, a grapple gun, and tells her to head to the Moscow environment as she holds off Jill. As Alice and Becky escape we see that Alice has been shot in the side but it’s hard to tell how serious the wound is.

Meanwhile back with Leon’s team, they’re still pinned down as Sergei attempts to find a way out. Before he finds an escape route, a chainsaw-wielding zombie kills Tony which is a shame because he never got to have a line in the movie. In fact, I’m not even sure Tony is his name because literally, nobody acknowledges his death.

Leon's team escape the majini zombies in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
“Hey wasn’t there 5 of us…. Hmm maybe not.

Alice and Becky arrived at the Moscow environment through the train station and run into Rain who helped clone Alice and Becky earlier, we’ll refer to her as Nice-Rain. Nice-Rain mistakes Alice for clone Alice and is happy she and Becky are still alive. Hearing nearby gunfire, Alice teaches Nice-Rain how to use a gun and asks her to watch over Becky for a little while as she goes to find Leon and his team.

Leon’s team exits the store where they were pinned down and since Sergei isn’t a character from the games, he’s attacked and killed by a huge Licker. Leon, Barry, and Luther open fire but it does nothing to the Licker who prepares to attack. Before it can, Alice rams it with a car, and the group rushes into the car to escape.

The group is then attacked by motorcycle-riding rifle-wielding majini zombies but Alice is able to force the zombies to crash as Leon and Barry open fire. The Uber Licker returns and gives chase but Alice avoids it by driving into the train station and causing it to be crushed under debris.

The Uber Licker chases after Alice and Leon in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
Honestly, I’d give up at this point

The group meets back with Nice Rain and Becky and Alice reveals the glasses Ada gave her can create a holographic map that can plot their escape. The group proceeds to the service tunnel and we see the Uber Licker is still alive. The group reaches the elevators in the submarine pen but the Red Queen shuts off the power which I feel like she could have done a lot earlier. Wouldn’t that have trapped them in whatever environment they were in?

Leon reveals Plan B will be them riding the elevator to the top after the explosives go off and floods the facility. Unfortunately, the Uber Licker appears and swipes at Barry leaving him with deep gashes, kills Nice-Rain, and kidnaps Becky because of plot armor.

Luther prepares to help Alice find Becky but he’s shot in the arm and side by Jill’s security team who apparently make no noise while moving. Luther, Leon, and Barry hold off the security team as Alice heads up a ladder to find Becky and fight the Licker.

Leon checks his watch revealing there are only 5 minutes before the bombs go off which is nowhere near enough time but with some movie magic I’m sure it’s plenty. Barry tells Leon and Luther to get to the elevator and decides to sacrifice himself to buy them time.

Meanwhile, Alice spots Becky encased in a Licker egg high up on a platform while being watched over by the Uber Licker. Using Ada’s grapple gun, Alice shoots herself up and over the Licker while shooting at it. She then superhero lands as the Licker seemingly falls dead behind her.

Alice kills the Uber Licker in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
You can’t do a superhero landing without superpowers! Just give her back her powers so we can stop this charade

After freeing Becky, Alice notices the dead body in the next egg sack is holding multiple explosives and she takes them as we hear the Licker start to growl. Back with Barry, Jill reveals that she has Ada hostage and demands Barry drop his weapon. Barry pretends to drop his weapon and is able to kill Captain Cool before he’s shot and killed by Carlos. 

Attempting to escape the Licker, Alice and Becky find the room manufacturing all the clones and Becky finally realizes that Alice isn’t her real mom. Alice says she is now and Becky is completely cool with it. Trauma averted.

The Licker arrives and attacks but Alice activates the explosives and escapes by using the grapple gun while holding onto Becky. The explosives go off right under the Licker seemingly killing it for good this time. Luther and Leon make it to the elevator as the bombs they planted go off flooding the facility and the environments. 

As the elevator lifts Luther and Leon up toward the top, Becky and Alice arrive using a vent so I guess the elevator wasn’t the only way out of the facility. The group gets in Leon’s snowmobile but are knocked over when an Umbrella submarine breaks through the ice.

The submarine opens up to reveal Jill, Not-Nice Rain, and Ada in handcuffs. Not-Nice Rain injects herself with the las plagas parasite essentially making her a powerful bioweapon. As Jill fights Alice, Luther, and Leon open fire on Not-Nice Rain but she extrudes the bullets out of her fingertips.

Not-Nice Rain overpowers Luther and Leon and breaks Leon’s arm as we weirdly see an x-ray of his arm breaking, something that has never happened in any of these movies. Also despite us literally seeing her break his arm, Leon is right back to throwing punches, blocking with that same arm, and never hints at that his arm is truly broken.

Meanwhile, Jill, using a spear she randomly now has, fights Alice who is using two climbing axes. Though the fights seem pretty even at times, Jill apparently is also superpowered because she is able to kick Alice 20 feet through the air and can do random admittingly cool but not normal flips. Jill then beats the crap out of Alice and is about to choke her to death but Alice reaches for the mind control device and removes it. 

Jill Valentine is about to kill Alice in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
Umbrella: Can make clones and recreate cities but our mind control devices must be in an easily accessible area on a person’s body.

Jill falls to the ground and starts to convulse as Alice shoots the device. Meanwhile, Luther attempts to hit Not-Nice Rain with a fire extinguisher but she blocks it and punches him in the chest. We see the x-ray of her punch breaking his sternum and stopping his heart as Luther falls dead on the ground.

Not-Nice Rain goes to kill Leon but Alice shoots her in the back getting her attention. Not-Nice Rain attacks Alice, striking her in the chest and we see an x-ray of Alice’s sternum breaking but she doesn’t die although her heart slows. 

Honestly, the x-ray thing is really throwing me off, what’s the point of it? Leon’s arm is broken but he’s fine, Luther and Alice are attacked the same way but Luther dies and Alice doesn’t? It’s creating more plot holes!

Alice falls to the ground and notices zombies just under the ice. Jill, no longer mind controlled, wakes up and throws a gun to Alice who shoots the ice under Not-Nice Rain. Rain falls into the ice and is immediately attacked and killed by the zombies.

Rain is killed by zombies underwater in 2012's Resident Evil: Retribution
Not going to lie this is a good shot

Helicopters that for some reason couldn’t arrive sooner, finally arrive and pick up Alice, Becky, Jill, Leon, and Ada. Alice passes out and wakes up a short time later on a gurney in the helicopter. Jill welcomes her back and Alice doesn’t ask about Claire or Chris. The group arrives at the White House in Washington D.C. and Alice is let into the President’s Office where Wesker is waiting.

Wesker immediately injects Alice with the T-Virus giving her back her powers as if she didn’t have them this whole time. Wesker explains that they need superpowered Alice back as the Red Queen is trying to destroy humanity. The remaining people have taken refuge in the area surrounding the white house which is currently being swarmed by zombies and bio-weapons. 

The film ends with Jill, Wesker, Alice, Ada, and Leon standing on the roof of the white house as they look upon the destruction around them.


Resident Evil: Retribution is okay but only if you’ve seen the previous movies which were not good. This of course is if you’re not really a fan of these movies, if you’re a fan of these movies, you’ll love this one. Admittingly I like these movies for being dumb action zombie movies that take from one of my favorite video game series. Don’t get me wrong, they’re bad movies but they can be fun if you just feel like having junk food and there’s nothing wrong with that.

It feels like Paul W.S. Anderson finally played the games as he brings in multiple fan-favorite characters who actually act like their video game counterparts, unlike Chris Redfield in the previous film. There are also a lot of easter eggs like Leon’s jacket, Barry’s gun, zombie types, and fights. The movie also has references to its previous films and actually maintains continuity with the previous films which is why I think if you like the previous films, you’ll love this one.

This movie also has a noticeably somewhat good main musical theme except that it’s used so frequently that by the end you won’t like it. The story writing appears to have gotten better except that plot armor for certain characters is ridiculously noticeable and every villain and monster are able to move silently so they always get the jump on the characters. The attempts to blend video game aspects into the universe created here do, also, create plot holes. For example, using the mind control device from the games despite clones being a common thing in Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil universe is nonsensical

The dialogue is just as bad as in previous films but the acting has gotten slightly better. Although Johann Urb’s acting as Leon was not good and I couldn’t tell if that was on purpose or because of bad editing. For example, Alice and Leon have a conversation and it cuts between them for every sentence, it’s almost as if they weren’t there for the other’s scenes and two takes were spliced together.

Speaking of cuts, action sequences are good but once again slightly ruined by the director’s need to constantly cut to a new angle. There are also random slow-motion shots of characters looking dramatically at something happening. It’s annoying and ruins the pace.

Overall I can only recommend Resident Evil: Retribution if you like the other movies, I do think this is one of the better ones as it feels like it’s building up to something instead of just groups of survivors wandering around.


Stuff to Ignore

Rotten Tomatoes – 28%

Metacritic – 39

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