“Retribution,” starring the ever-credible Liam Neeson, promises a tense hostage drama that unfolds within the confines of a car, leaving audiences gripping the edges of their seats. The storyline of “Retribution” revolves around Matt Turner (Liam Neeson), a dedicated bank executive who finds himself more engrossed in his work than his family. The façade of familial normalcy shatters when Matt receives an anonymous call on the rare occasion he decides to take his children to school. The chilling message reveals that a bomb has been planted beneath each car seat, poised to detonate should anyone dare to leave their seats. Matt is thrust into a harrowing situation as the enigmatic caller forces him to obey their every command. The film’s premise bears a striking resemblance to the 1994 classic “Speed,” starring Keanu Reeves and Sandra Bullock, though it trades in the high-speed thrills for a more claustrophobic setting. The film bears the title “Retribution,” but the burning question that lingers is: where is the retribution?
Liam Neeson, a stalwart of the action thriller genre, delivers yet another formidable performance as the lead character, Matt Turner. Neeson effortlessly embodies the role, exuding the perfect blend of age, appearance, and personality that the character demands. However, it is Neeson’s undeniable charisma that truly breathes life into Matt, making his plight all the more believable. While Matt may lack the infamous “particular set of skills” associated with Neeson’s previous roles, the actor’s sheer presence carries the film, rendering it eminently watchable.
The supporting cast, including Embeth Davidtz as Matt’s wife, Lilly Aspell as the daughter, and Jack Champion as the rebellious son, deliver competent performances that serve the narrative well. The true enigma of the film lies in its unseen antagonist, a voice shrouded in mystery. Throughout the movie, the audience remains in suspense, questioning whether Neeson’s character is the hero or the villain, a clever choice that keeps viewers guessing.
“Retribution” excels in crafting an action-packed hostage drama that maintains relentless tension within the confines of a car. The film’s pacing is commendable, clocking in at a concise runtime. While the script could be better, a bit more expansion of the storyline could have added depth to the narrative. The screenplay is bolstered by a noteworthy background score, Flavio Labiano’s deft camerawork, and Steven Mirkovich’s sharp editing.
Set in Germany but spoken in English, the absence of subtitles for the German-speaking portions may leave some viewers desiring additional context. The character of the Interpol female police boss introduces a peculiar dynamic, as she possesses crucial case-solving information yet refuses to lend an ear to Matt’s pleas for assistance. Another recurring problem in the film is the pervasive refusal to listen to anything Matt says. Matt pleads, “Please, just listen,” or variations of this phrase numerous times. Yet, it becomes abundantly clear that his pleas fall on deaf ears, met with an inexplicable resistance to comprehension.
“Retribution” may not reinvent the action crime thriller genre but offers a riveting and compact cinematic experience. The film’s masterful twist with the revelation of the antagonist and its impressive, true-to-life explosions are visual highlights. While a few narrative gaps exist, the film’s editing and brisk pacing maintain non-stop suspense. For fans of Liam Neeson, “Retribution” is a must-watch journey that showcases the actor’s enduring prowess, even if it doesn’t break new ground. The film’s tight 90-minute runtime ensures a brisk and electrifying ride that leaves no room for dull moments, making it a solid addition to Neeson’s action-packed filmography.