Director: Nimrod Antal
Cast: Liam Neeson, Noma Dumezweni, Lilly Aspell, Jack Champion, Embeth Davidtz, Mathew Modine
Runtime: 1 hr 31 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Coarse Language and Violence)
Released By: Shaw Organisation
Opening Day: 7 September 2023
Synopsis: Matt Turner (Liam Neeson) is a successful Berlin based American businessman juggling a booming financial career with family responsibility. Driving his kids to school one morning, Matt receives a phone call from a mysterious voice: there's a bomb under his seat that will detonate unless he completes a specific series of tasks, and fast. Trapped in their car in a high-speed chase across the city, Matt must follow the stranger's increasingly dangerous instructions in a race against time to protect his family and solve the mystery that plays out over the course of one day.
We could never resist the temptation to make a pun on Liam Neeson and his special set of skills. But it had comes to a point whereby it is becoming repetitive and exhausting that we decides to give it a rest. Unlike us, the 71 year old Irish actor stars yet again in another generic, repetitive and exhausting action thriller of the year called Retribution. See, even the name smells generic.
Neeson plays Matt, a Berlin-based investment banker whose punishing working schedule has drifted apart his relationship with his wife and children. While his wife, Heather (Embeth Davidtz) is secretly planning a divorce at the lawyer’s office, it’s Matt’s turn to drive the kids, Zack (Jack Champion) and Emily (Lilly Aspell) to school.
Soon enough, Matt receives an anonymous call on a cell phone placed inside his car compartment. The psycho on the other side of the call informs Matt that there is a bomb hidden under his seat and it will detonate if he or the kids attempt to get out of the car. In the meantime, Matt needs to follow the psycho’s order such as watching the deaths of his office colleagues including his boss (Matthew Modine) and asking his wife to withdraw money from his deposit box.
Retribution in actual fact is a remake of a Spanish thriller which none of us here has watched. Thus there’s no way to make a decent comparison though we can attest that this English language version is so boring that the brief 91 minutes duration seems like eternity.
There’s no suspense, thrills or adrenalin for that matter as we follows Matt in his swanky Mercedes as he drives aimlessly around Berlin. Helmer Nimrod Antal (Vacancy, Predators, Stranger Things) certainly has an easy job directing Neeson who is practically stuck in the car the entire time. Besides some lame attempt to communicate with his estranged son and assuring his daughter, Neeson’s only other job is to toggle between the phones and control system of his car.
The material and direction is so weak that the handful of car chases and explosions are amateur at best. Even with Neeson’s trademark gruff and machismo on full display, there isn’t enough compelling elements and plot turns to keep things going. Even the so-called plot twist is standard screenwriting 101.
For a 2023 movie, Retribution is horrible on all accounts if you insist on comparing this to a nearly three decades, bomb-on-a-bus action thriller, the all-time superior Speed. Neeson needs to seriously stop his subpar everyday action hero routine or risk endangering his wholesome acting career.
(This Neeson vehicle lacks the horsepower to run from start to finish)
Review by Linus Tee