'Retribution' movie review:
Still from Retribution
Cast: Liam Neeson, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Modine, Noma Dumezweni, Arian Moayed, Lilly Aspell, Jack Champion.
Director: Nimród Antal
Runtime: 90 mins
Liam Neeson takes a sort of sabbatical from his umpteenth action sequel to star in this rather lethargic (for him) thriller where he is forced to stay put in a car with his two not-so-obedient, mouthy kids (Jack Champion and Lilly Aspell) in the back seat, all through the 90 odd min runtime. There’s a bomb under the seat and any attempt to get out could trigger an explosion. The plotting emulates ‘Speed’ but minus all the excitement and thrills that added up to a great thriller movie experience.
Though Neeson gets to play an inadvertent victim and show off his acting chops - presenting a worried, fearful, frantic, thinking side as opposed to his rote tough-guy ‘Taken’ side, there’s really not much to get a high from here. The rather generic and ditzy nature of the writing puts paid to any great experience of either thrills or tension.
The sketchy character development puts the entire focus on what happens in the car and cinematographer Flavio Martínez Labiano does well to keep us engaged in the intricacies of the survival skills on display. Set in Berlin, Neeson as bank executive Matt Turner has just left home with his two kids in tow after a quick chat with colleague Anders Muller (Matthew Modine). On the way, a cell phone rings and Matt is informed by a distorted voice that there’s a bomb under his seat.
There’s not much to the narrative and action is way too sporadic and formulaic to matter much in the overall scheme of things. The surprise twist in the tale is also quite predictable and anticlimactic. It’s also a little difficult to justify given the sequence of events. At best this film appears to be an interim easy ride payoff for a much jaded and visibly aging action star!