Retribution movie review & film summary (2023)

August 25, 2023 - Movies

If “Retribution” had been the kind of standard-issue VOD drag—the kind headlined by someone with a vaguely recognizable name whose career never quite panned out—I suppose that might have been easier with the complete chintziness “Retribution” demonstrates on virtually every level. But that’s not the case here. When given material worthy of his talents, Neeson can still deliver strong and stirring performances, and Davidtz and Modine have also done impressive work in the past. 

Antal is not exactly a slouch either—he did a very interesting 2003 film called “Control,” worked on a couple of episodes of “Stranger Things,” and I know people who will stand by such earlier features as “Vacancy” (2007), “Armored” (2009) and “Predators” (2010). These are all talented people working on “Retribution.” I suppose it’s a measure of their dogged professionalism (if not their taste in material) that they could drag themselves back to the set day after day, long after they must have known there was virtually no chance it would result in something even remotely passable. 

“Retribution” is a dud destined to be erased from our cultural memory once it presumably departs theaters in a couple of weeks. According to the press release, the film promises “an immersive ticking clock thriller that straps audiences in for a high-octane ride of redemption and revenge.” It pretty much fails to deliver on all counts. Look, if you want to see a thriller remake starring Neeson that’s worth your time this weekend, allow me to point you toward “Cold Pursuit,” in which Neeson plays a snowplow driver in a small Colorado town who uses his skills to destroy the drug ring that murdered his son. Although no masterpiece, it gave Neeson things to do, and the oddball combination of action, drama, and Coen Brothers-style dark humor made for sturdy B-movie entertainment. In comparison, “Retribution” seems even more of a complete waste of time, effort, and energy than it already is. 

Now playing in theaters. 

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