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Mario Bautista, has been with the entertainment industry for more than 4 decades. He writes regular columns for People's Journal and Malaya.

Aug 28, 2023



‘RETRIBUTION’ is the latest film of geriatric action star Liam Neeson, who was last seen in last year’s “Memory” where he played a hitman with early onset Alzheimer’s disease. 

“Retribution” is based on a 2915 Spanish thriller, “El Desconocido” and this time, Liam plays a big time investment banker, Matt Turner.

Matt is based in Germany with his wife Heather (Embeth Davidtz who was with Liam in his best film ever, “Schindler’s List”) and their two kids, Zach (Jack Champion, the white boy Spider in “Avatar, The Way of Water”) and Emily (Lilly Aspell.)

Matt has made a fortune by lying to their clients about possible hedge fund investments.

He might have amassed a fortune, but his family life is not as successful as he’s not always available to them.

He is now sadly alienated from his wife and his son even if they live in a beautiful modernist home in Berlin.

The morning that the film starts, he is supposed to take his two kids to school in his hightech Mercedes luxury car. 

While he is driving, he gets a call from a mysterious man with a distorted voice who tells him that a ticking bomb was put under his car seat and if he wouldn’t follow the bomber’s instructions, then he and his two kids could explode in their car. 

He cannot stop or get out of the as the bomb will automatically detonate. Clearly, it is now time for retribution for Matt as he has to pay for his nefarious business ways. 

The bomber is hinting that he has destroyed someone’s life but he cannot remember any such situation or incident in his past. 

What is to be a normal drive to take his kids to school has now become a dangerous game of life or death. 

Matt has to obey all the orders of the bomber and his increasingly demanding instructions in a race against time to save his life and his two kids.

The plot is reminiscent of the high octane thriller “Speed” with Keanu Reeves as the driver of a bus that will explode if he would not comply to what the bad guys tell him to do. 

Just like “Speed”, Liam’s “Retribution” is also an immersive ticking clock suspense thriller that straps its viewers for an hour and a half ride of risks and redemption. 

The bomber has managed to bomb other cars and its passengers and also succeeds in making it appear to the cops that it is Matt who is masterminding the whole operation.

So how will he be able to redeem himself and also manage to save his life and that of his own kids who have been “taken”?

The film manages to be a gripping story as the whole narrative is quite tense all throughout. 

We keep on wondering what is Matt’s back story and what is he being punished for, while the cops are hot on his heels.

The direction by Nimrod Antal (“Predators”) is taut and riveting even if the whole movie is set almost entirely just inside a car.

While introducing us to such terms as “the dark web” and “crypto accounts”, he also manages to utilize the limited space inside the car to constantly mount the tension. 

The narrative manages to hook our attention until the unraveling comes in the climactic twist, revealing who the dastard culprit behind it all really is. 

The movie is the type that western critics will enjoy tearing into bits.

We notice most of them seem to resent the fact that Liam is 71 years old and is still an A lister who gets to play lead roles in action movies after his career was reinvented in 2008 in the surprise blockbuster, “Taken”.

Here, there isn’t much action since it all happens inside a claustrophobic car, but Liam handles his role pretty well as the father in distress as the tension mounts, with so much conviction in his efforts to save his children.

Giving him adequate support is Jack Champion as his rebellious teenage son and Lilly Aspell as his young daughter who is more sympathetic with him but gets injured from an explosion. 

Embeth Davidtz as his distraught wife and Noma Dumezweni as the lady cop who is hot on his trail are also effective in their comparatively short roles.