Retribution Review | Liam Neeson and the Script Are in an Unimaginative Autopilot Mode

Retribution, the new Liam Neeson starrer, which has him ultimately playing a very similar role of a parent on a saving mission, is a film that is not even trying to have something genuinely exciting. The narrative is so flat that even when you are interested in knowing who the mystery man is, there is no excitement in how the plot gets built. With a sloppy climax that makes everything look so easy and hasty, the 91-minute-long runtime is perhaps the only good thing about the film. 

A financier named Matt Turner is the central character of the movie. He is very much obsessed with his work, and his wife is clearly miffed with him. One day, she requests him to take both their kids to school and sadly, on the very same day, while driving his kids to school, Matt gets a call. The caller threatened to blow up the car as there was a bomb underneath Matt’s seat. With no idea about the caller’s identity, Matt finds himself in the middle of a big mess. We see how Matt Turner deals with that situation and takes down the unknown enemy in Retribution. 

Based on Alberto Marini’s movie El Desconocido, Retribution rarely tries to have originality to its credit. The fact that Liam Neeson himself has this stereotyped image of the parent in peril makes the concept less exciting. I haven’t seen the original, and I was hoping for the mystery man to have a substantial motive that will sort of shatter many things for our morally grey hero. But when his identity is revealed in the last 15 minutes of the film, the imagination feels pretty lethargic.

The only noticeable change from the Taken character for Neeson is that Matt Turner is not an expert in using weapons; hence, he is a lot more vulnerable. But still, the writing and even his performance after a point want to give Turner some of the traits of Bryan Mills. Lilly Aspell and Jack Champion, who play the roles of the kids of Matt Turner, who are stuck with their dad in the car, are the other performers with proper screen time, and they were fine. Matthew Modine, Embeth Davidtz, and Noma Dumezweni are also part of the cast, with minimal screen time.

The writing has the intention to use the drama that gets created within the span of a few hours to make us empathize with the central character. But beyond the intention, Nimród Antal’s film does not take any effort to make that character exposition look captivating on screen. A lot of the time, you find the hesitant behavior of the hero forceful as the movie wants to maintain tension. The cinematography is somewhat all over the place as the camera angles shift drastically, even on an emotionally consistent scene requiring less jarring camera moves. 

Even if you are an ardent fan of Liam Neeson, who has a peculiar style in playing these types of characters, the making will disappoint you. The inefficiency of the script to create an emotionally convincing villain is the strongest demerit of this movie. Once the film reveals the villain, and as we proceed to watch further development, the whole film starts to feel like a thriller that has no clarity on what to achieve. 

Final Thoughts

With a sloppy climax that makes everything look so easy and hasty, the 91-minute-long runtime is perhaps the only good thing about the film.


Green: Recommended Content

Orange: The In-Between Ones

Red: Not Recommended


By Aswin Bharadwaj

Founder and editor of Lensmen Reviews.