The $675 million-grossing film franchise returns for its fifth and most spectacular installment to date, Resident Evil: Retribution, written and directed by Paul W. S. Anderson, in state-of-the art 3-D. This month we take a look at the characters to watch out for in this new installment of the franchise.
Alice (Milla Jovovich)
As always, the central figure in this gritty and gripping tale is Alice, played once again with implacable ferocity by Milla Jovovich. One of the things that makes Resident Evil interesting is that we present a woman as a convincing action hero. She’s tough as hell. She’s a leader; she’s determined. If anybody’s going to beat Umbrella, it’s Alice.
Alice has evolved with each chapter of the ongoing saga, transforming from naïve amnesiac to superhumanly gifted warrior and, now, a battered foot soldier in the ongoing war against the ultimate evil. After playing the character for a decade, Jovovich has come to know her more intimately and care more deeply about her action-hero alter ego.
Alice was stripped of her superpowers in Resident Evil: Afterlife, a move that Jovovich believes was critical to the development of the character. “We’ve moved closer to the original Alice, who was a little more vulnerable,” she says. “When she’s in danger, the audience can be scared for her because she can’t just make everything explode. She’s still a badass, just not a superhero badass.”
Rain Ocampo (Michelle Rodriguez)
In Resident Evil, Rain Ocampo, played by Michelle Rodriguez, was a member of the Umbrella special commando unit. A skilled marksman, Rain and her team were dispatched to contain the infection after the outbreak by any means possible. But after Rain was infected with the deadly T-virus and transformed into a zombie, she was killed.
Rodriquez was thrilled when Director Paul Anderson called to say they had found a way to bring her character back to life. “I’m really happy to be back,” she says. “I didn’t think there’d ever be a possibility of bringing back my character. But there’s always an open window when you’re dealing with science fiction. The possibilities are endless. I’m really happy we have a director who is so creative.”
In the film, Rodriguez portrays two characters, a hard-as-nails weapons specialist working for the Umbrella Corporation, and a Prius-driving, tree-hugging student with a fondness for high heels. Known for playing strong female characters who operate in traditionally male fields, the actress loved playing against type. “I’m avid about guns and a bit of a tomboy,” she says. “Much of my career has been defined by that. It was a nice shift into playing someone a little laid back and sexy for a change. It was cool and fun to play someone who is quirky and doesn’t know how to handle a gun.”
Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory)
Also returning is the character of Jill Valentine, played once again by British actress Sienna Guillory. A former police officer who aligned with Alice against the Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Guillory was last seen ordering the killing of all remaining survivors—including Alice—at the end of Resident Evil: Afterlife. “Jill is being controlled by Umbrella now,” explains Guillory. “She’s a good girl trapped in a bad body. And she’s a real baddie in this film.”
Guillory was delighted to return to the world of Resident Evil, as well as to work with Jovovich and Anderson once again. “On these films, you’re part of a team and the support is incredible,” she says. “Milla is the most giving actress to work with and Paul has a limitless imagination. I felt like I had come home.”
Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr)
Oded Fehr, familiar to audiences as Carlos Olivera, a member of the Umbrella forces special commando unit in Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction, also plays dual roles in the film. Fehr says that his return to the franchise makes perfect sense.
“If you can have a hundred Alices, why not have more Carloses, Ones and Rains?” he asks. “There are so many twists and turns that it’s going to be a blast. And it was great to be reunited with the ‘family’ from the films I did earlier.”
Luther West (Boris Kodjoe)
Boris Kodjoe is also back as Luther West, a strong, confident ex-pro athlete discovered barricaded inside a prison with a small group of survivors in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Luther and Alice shared an immediate connection, forging an allegiance based on mutual respect. During their escape from the prison, Luther was attacked by zombies and is presumed dead by Alice and the others. “They had an amazing partnership in the last movie,” the actor says. “But she believes that he’s gone and it’s a nice surprise for her to find out he’s not. When they meet again, there’s obvious relief on both sides, as well as excitement that they are going to embark on a new adventure.”
For Kodjoe, one of the biggest reasons for returning to the series was the opportunity to act alongside Jovovich again. “Working with Milla is an absolute pleasure,” says the actor. “She is the perfect hero for this franchise. She brings everything to the table. She’s a team player and her energy influences everyone else.”
Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts)
Returning as the film’s larger-than-life villain, Umbrella Corporation chairman Albert Wesker, is Shawn Roberts. Virtually indestructible as a result of being infected with the T-virus, Wesker seems to be evil incarnate. “Wesker is probably the biggest villain from the games and definitely a fan favorite,” says Director Paul Anderson. “We blew him up with an atom bomb in the last movie, but even that was not enough to keep him down.”
Playing an unrepentant scoundrel is an actor’s dream, according to Roberts. “Albert Wesker will not to stay in the background. He’s decided to take top position. I rule the world and it feels pretty good to be sitting at the top.”
Ada Wong (Li Bingbing)
Another character drawn directly from the game is the mysterious and deadly Ada Wong. The filmmakers selected award-winning Chinese actress Li Bingbing to embody Wong’s strength and intelligence, as well her ambiguous loyalties.
Producers said they knew as soon as they saw her audition that Bingbing was the perfect choice for the role.
Li was honored to be chosen to play the alluring assassin. “Resident Evil is a well-known game in China and Ada Wong has a lot of fans there,” she says. “When Paul invited me to play the part, I think the fans were as excited as I was.”
The most daunting component for Li was not the extensive stunt work, but having to speak her lines in English. “At the beginning, I was very self-conscious,” she admits. “I thought that if I just didn’t open my mouth, I wouldn’t make any mistakes. But as I got to know everyone better, I became more comfortable. And I was relieved to find that nobody laughed. In fact, they said ‘oh your English is amazing!’ They made me feel like I was part of a very cozy family.”
Resident Evil: Retribution opens in cinemas 13 Sep
Images courtesy of Sony Pictures Singapore
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