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film reel image

Sunday, August 27, 2023

Retribution 2023 * * * Stars


"What do you want?" Ah the obligatory question the protagonist has to ask the antagonist (usually over the phone). I just the wish the antagonist would give a straight answer and not fudge the issue. 

Anyway movies with Liam Neeson aren't really movies, they're Liam Neeson vehicles, made for Neeson, product placed for Neeson, Neeson by design. He just has to be the Everyman, the antihero, the non-bad guy, the too-old-for-his-wife-and-kids family man. Yup, when you see an actor slinging passable, B-movie thrillers till infinity, well you'll just have to surrender. Time to get Neeson-ed once again.  

Liam's latest is 2023's Retribution, a film that digs up the bodies of flicks like Speed and 2002's Phone Booth. Basically it milks its golden premise for all it's worth. Neeson plays Matt Turner, a banker who while taking his kids to school, finds out from an unknown caller that there's a bomb under his seat. If he and his kiddies try to get out, well it will explode (duh). 

So yeah, what evil entity is trying to do this to Matt? Why the heck does his daughter and son have to be involved? How can anyone sit still in a car and not yearn to go to the bathroom? How come not everyone in said car can hear all the inside voices? And what's up with the unlimited supply of petrol while Matty drives like Dale Earnhardt Jr. around Berlin? 

These are questions and they give you the feeling that Retribution is kind of implausible and almost cock and bull. Oh well. Neeson's raw, salty performance pulls you through, the layered, somewhat auxiliary endings are real humdingers, and Nimrod Antal's (yes that's his name) attention to detail direction is merciless and capable of giving any viewer a cinematic, panic attack. "Do I have your attention?" Um, you've got mine. "Measure for measure". 

Written by Jesse Burleson

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