Of all the problems plaguing “Resident Evil: Retribution,” its worst is its blatant plagiarism from greater films.

Resident Evil: Retribution

At Quality 16 and Rave
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Like many of its contemporary cohorts, it owes a great deal to “The Matrix.” Thirteen years since the success of the Wachowskis’ accomplishment, its innovations — its meshing of beautiful aesthetics, bullet-time, Hong Kong-esque cinematography and computer imagery — have been abused to the point that you wish Neo had taken cyanide instead of the red pill so “The Matrix” would’ve never happened. Then perhaps shameless hacks like “Resident Evil: Retribution” would’ve never existed.

The plot follows an “Inception”-esque formula: The characters trapped and separated in different environments that they must escape within a certain amount of time. But what made “Inception” work so well was the complex motives of each character and the always-present schedule imposed on them. That frantic atmosphere is nowhere to be found in this wannabe, where Alice (reprised by Milla Jovovich) must escape from an underwater facility.

And that’s the story: a 95-minute escape that, in a better film, would’ve taken 20-30 minutes. As a result, “Resident Evil: Retribution” is only the beginning of a story. Also, had the screenplay, written by director Paul W.S. Anderson (“The Three Musketeers”), not focused completely on prolonged bloody struggles, this movie might’ve been exciting. A contrived film, the characters are led by a leash from one area to the next, each scene linked together — and thus the film propelled forward — by the promise of bloodshed.

The important characters are protected by a “too-important-to-die” invisible wall. Even when bullets fly and RPGs explode, characters step out from cover, their body fully exposed, take a few shots, then step back into cover — and we’re supposed to believe they’re not all dead because the attackers are really just horrible shots, despite some of them being trained as commandos. Bullets, explosions, headshots, blood, guts — on to the next area. Kill zombies/commandos. Repeat.

And repeat again — except this time, the enemies and area are different. The film ends with another bloody promise, this time, in the form of a sequel: The ultimate war for survival is brewing. And you’re invited to participate. Could they have probably made “Resident Evil: Retribution” and the series finale into one film? Well, that’s no way to make money, is it? Efficiency is sacrificed without ceremony. This is not artful storytelling — this is business storytelling. Why have one when you can have two?

No stranger to the Hollywood sequel machine, Jovovich has now played this role for the fifth time. This time, she has a daughter in tow and is expected to exhibit some form of maternal instinct. Despite some raised expectations, rarely does she ever convince the audience she’s anything but bored.

Then again, it’s hard to criticize acting in this film when acting means posing with a gun, putting on a “tough” face and reciting horrible one-liners. The characters are stunted, lifeless homunculi. Imagine a zombie film played by unenthusiastic hair models, and you’ve got “Resident Evil: Retribution.” Ugh.

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