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Retribution 2023 Movie Review
Retribution Movie Review: Nimród Antal’s action thriller Retribution sees Liam Neeson take the lead role. Based on the Spanish flick “El desconocido” (2015), Retribution restores all the original elements but seems too soft for today’s audiences. Actually, remaking a 2015 flick that hasn’t gotten a high repeat value or universal acclaim wasn’t a good idea in the first place, but technically it was a safe bet. The script did not demand a huge budget, long hours, or any transformations, so it sums things up quickly. That’s easy, but somebody has said the right thing: “Easy is boring”. You need something exciting and thrilling just to add one more layer to your decent watch, and the product should land safely. Retribution gets to that decent point, but not to that one extra layer.
Retribution revolves around bank financier Matt Turner (Liam Neeson), who is more busy at work than his family. He thinks everything’s alright with his wife, son, and daughter, but it isn’t. One day, Matt is off to leave his children at school in a car, and he receives an anonymous call on a cellphone that has been left inside and is told that a bomb has been placed under each of the car’s seats, set to explode if any of them leaves their seated position. The unknown caller asks Matt to do everything he says, and as we all know, he wouldn’t give easy tasks. From money scams to murder, framing, and destroying one’s identity, Matt’s life is turned upside down. Can he get it back and save his children?
Retribution is a wannabe revenge drama that hardly has any sensible revenge theories. On the positive side, it is a very engaging hostage drama. You might have seen hostess dramas set in a godown, room, or house, but never inside a car. Retribution scores high in those attributes. One can feel the pressure that’s built inside the vehicle and the way those three characters and one horrible voice behave. What goes wrong is the shortening process. The best thing about Retribution is that it’s pacy and short, and the worst thing is that it’s too short for a complete feature film experience. Predictability is caused by the remake factor, but it wouldn’t be there for first-timers. The script has completeness intellectually but is incomplete as a thrilling ride. A little bit of extension to the storyline would have made a good difference.
Talking about performances, Retribution is all about Liam Neeson’s acting finesse. This man suits the age, look, and personality of the character, but more than that, it’s his own charisma that makes it look better. “I can’t,” says Matt, dropping his gun. Watch out for Neeson’s expression and the situational brilliance provided by him. Noma Dumezweni shines in that one particular scene when she has a conversation with Matt, aka Liam. Matthew Modine will surprise you, despite limited screen space, while Embeth Davidtz underperforms, unexpectedly. The supporting roles of Lilly Aspell, Jack Champion, Arian Moayed, and others are somewhat noticeable.
Retribution’s strength lies in its screenplay, even though the storyline is a bit pulpy. El desconocido showed the protagonist in a bad light as a dishonest person, while Retribution is way too mild in presenting the hero. It derives a lot from the sympathetic image of the hero, as we see his children and even the cops being too supportive towards him. It’s generous and lovable occasionally-not fully, though. The technical aspects are okay, with a special mention to the background score. Flavio Labiano’s camerawork is fine, and Steven Mirkovich’s editing doesn’t let you have a nap. Nimród Antal’s return to the movies after 7 years may be alright, but I still prefer that aggressive Antal from Predators (2010). Moviemaking is far different now, so he must update himself. It’s mandatory when you are remaking a so-so one-time film. Retribution is a one-time watch too, but how many people prefer that nowadays?