Retribution movie review (2023)
In the realm of cinematic thrillers, Liam Neeson has frequently found himself battling against the odds, often with family ties at stake. A fusion of past Neeson motifs and the tension-driven premise of Alberto Marini’s “El Desconocido,” the film “Retribution” melds these elements into a new narrative. Here, we follow Matt Turner (Liam Neeson), a prosperous German banker who’s amassed his fortune by using cunning tactics to prevent clients from retracting investments. Yet, his success has come at the cost of familial neglect, estranging him from his loved ones. The reckoning arrives when Matt and his children are unexpectedly thrust into a harrowing situation, taken hostage by an enigmatic adversary. What ensues is a relentless game of high-stakes consequences, where Matt is forced to confront his own deceptions and the possibility of irreparably harming someone’s life—though he can’t recall any such transgression.
Over the course of its brisk 90-minute runtime, screenwriter Christopher Salmanpour masterfully weaves an enthralling narrative that sustains tension from start to finish. The movie’s gripping quality is most evident in the moments where the antagonist orchestrates Matt’s predicament and manipulates law enforcement into pursuit. However, the screenplay isn’t devoid of loopholes. For instance, Matt’s ability to put his captor on hold for extended periods without raising suspicion stretches believability. Yet, the film’s overall taut direction and storytelling prowess keep audiences engaged, even though the majority of the action transpires within a confined car and through phone conversations.
Director Nimród Antal deserves credit for maintaining the audience’s investment in the unfolding events, employing a claustrophobic setting to great effect. Harry Gregson-Williams’s musical score masterfully enhances the drama and tension, further immersing viewers in the on-screen turmoil.
Liam Neeson adeptly shoulders the role of the besieged father, conveying conviction in his determination to safeguard his children despite the scarcity of explosive action sequences. Jack Champion, portraying his brooding teenage son, and Lilly Aspell, as his young daughter trapped in the car, deliver strong performances that contribute to the film’s emotional core. Although in relatively brief appearances, Embeth Davidtz as Matt’s wife and Noma Dumezweni as the dedicated police officer leave a lasting impact.
“Retribution” proves to be a worthwhile single viewing experience, managing to maintain engagement until its conclusion. However, the ultimate revelation and twist within the story disappointingly detract from the initial promise of the narrative’s suspense. The central theme of retribution struggles to make its mark, as the motive driving the antagonist’s elaborate scheme comes across as shallow, serving primarily as a vehicle to underscore Matt’s life of duplicity.
In summation, “Retribution” captures attention for its amalgamation of Liam Neeson’s signature persona and the suspenseful storytelling inspired by Alberto Marini’s work. While it’s a movie that keeps audiences captivated, particularly due to its confined setting and high-stakes premise, the narrative and twist fall short of delivering the impactful drama initially anticipated.
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