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  • Robert Farago

Retribution: Movie Review

You don't deserve this

'Pro tip: don’t be a member of Liam Neeson’s family. Bad things happen to you. Liam’s hardly the only actor who never met a “you hurt my family you’re gonna pay” script he didn’t like. But at 71, Neeson is one of the oldest.

To be fair, Arnie’s knocking on 77. Sly was born a year after World War II. Both men aren’t busy saving cinematic sprogs, but they are gainfully employed disproving their expendability.

Harrison Ford is 81-years-old. Lest we forget (despite our best efforts), that didn’t stop him from starring in the worst Indiana Jones movie imaginable. Unimaginable? That too.

Unless you’re Mick Jagger, Retribution’s family math is a bit queasy-making. Minimalist Matt Turner puts two sprogs in the backseat of his bomb-laden Merc. The youngest couldn’t be more than 12.

'The movie begins by showing the late-to-the-father-game financier as a foul-tempered workaholic. He ignores the Mrs.’ lonely heart and his daughter’s Daddy issues with the same casual contempt you should apply to this movie.

And there I was thinking that making the audience give a shit about a movie’s central character is a script writer’s Job One. In this case, it was “do Speed in an SUV” and… that’s it.

Retribution is a high-concept endeavor that never gets out of first gear. Despite a premise simpler than The Tortoise and the Hare, it suffers from a credibility crisis that doesn’t end until the movie does. And not even then.

To wit: if a pressure-activated bomb is controlled by phone and the signal dies in a tunnel, driving in a tunnel would be an excellent time to, at the very least, jettison the kids. A clever man might have looked for a tunnel.

And miss the kids’ Xanaxian reaction shots and the world’s worst tourniquet-application instructions? Where’s the fun in that?

Hang on. Are they children?

Those of you who’ve had sprogs have a pretty good idea how they’d react if you told them their car was in danger of blowing up. Especially if they got an up-close-and-personal view of a Maserati missing a service interval in spectacular fashion.

Screaming? Sobbing? Panic? Anger? Any real world child would have gone down that road (so to speak) the moment Dad demanded their cell phones – never mind revealing the ka-boom conundrum.

Champion and Mila spend the entire movie confounding the audience’s expectations, should they care enough to have any. To say Matt’s kids are ciphers is like saying Liam Neeson’s acting range extends beyond anger.

If Retribution was on Netflix I might forgive a plot less twisty than a drag strip. Sure, there’s one plot twist. There has to be one. The bad guy is…

His disaffected wife! Take that you sexless bastard! Her divorce lawyer! Your money is our money. The frigid policewoman. Munchausen Syndrome by Mercedes! Nope.

Suffice it to say, it got to the point where I wanted Matt to die, like Steven Seagal’s Lt. Colonel Travis in Executive Decision (an entirely unexpected event that delighted audiences no end).

To meet moviegoer’s understandable assumption that money-grubbing Matt will eventually realize his family is more important than being a simp pathetic asshole, the filmmakers threw in ten seconds of happy kids flashbacks at the end.

How great is that?

On the woke-positive side, Retribution contains a single line of dialogue condemning capitalism. Hey, it beats reading Marx.

“I did everything above board,” Matt proclaims at the end of the movie. For realz.

So nothing to deserve the immolation of a high-end SUV and its occupants. Making a complete mockery of the film’s title.

In short, Retribution missed any and every opportunity to entertain, save car chases and explosions. If you think I should feel guilty about sharing spoilers, remember that the opposite of retribution is mercy. You’re welcome.

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