Plot: What’s it about?
I have become so accustomed to films starring Liam Neeson that I am committed to seeing them once they hit theaters (assuming they get a theatrical release). I will be the first to admit that some of his more recent offerings may not be the best, but they often still hit that sweet spot. Other diehard fans of his or even casual ones may agree. You know what to expect with most of his films. While he has said (about 5 films ago, but who’s counting?) that he is retiring from action films, that has yet to happen. I am glad he continues to work. His latest: Retribution is a middle-of-the-pack Neeson flick, but it’s still not a terrible way to spend an agreeable 90 minutes or so.
A remake of a foreign film that I have never seen (or heard of), Retribution stars Liam Neeson as Matt Turner. He is a financial advisor who seems to have a challenging time balancing that and being a husband and father. His wife urges him to take his two kids to school on a day that he has an important phone call to make. They seem to resent their father as his son, Zach (Jack Champion) refers to him by his name, rather than calling him dad. Meanwhile, his daughter, Emily (Lilly Aspell) teases her brother and spends most of her time looking at her phone. As he is driving, he gets a mysterious phone call from a phone that hears ringing. The kids say that it doesn’t belong to them or their mother. It comes from an unknown number. As the caller seems to know all too much about Matt, he is quick to dismiss the call and hangs up. The caller tries again and proves to Matt that he isn’t joking. What he tells Matt is that there is a bomb under the driver’s seat of his car that has a pressure sensor. Meaning that if Matt were to get out of the car, the bomb would go off. He wisely uses his cell phone to take a picture under his seat, confirming that there is a bomb, but also finding out specifics. He is told by the caller what he must do to potentially save the life of him and his children.
The film does a solid job at the ticking-clock scenario even if the characters across the board make some curious and frustrating decisions. There’s also the element of the cops and the agent over the case that doesn’t believe the Matt character and wants to pin it all on him. Some of this stuff stretches credibility too much at times. Still, the film knows not to overstay its welcome, and viewers will hardly have time to nitpick as they watch the film. This is largely Neeson’s show as he is confined to being in a car through most of it. He does a more than capable job of an everyday man stuck in a desperate situation. Matthew Modine also does nice work here as Matt’s boss in a supporting role. I will say that the twist did surprise me a bit as I was most uncertain who this mystery caller was. It kept me involved.
The Bottom Line
Neither his best nor worst film, Retribution falls somewhere right in the middle of Neeson’s increasingly large catalog of action flicks as of late. His committed fanbase such as I will want to check it out. If you don’t catch it theatrically, a rental is probably a better option anyway. Be that as it may, this earns a mild recommendation from me.