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Liam Nesson runs out of gas in Retribution

AARP action hero Liam Neeson is back on the scene to employ a particular set of skills for director Nimród Antal in Retribution from Lionsgate. Chris Salmanpiur pens the film's screenplay, a remake of the same-titled 2015 Spanish-French action thriller.

Matt Turner (Nesson) is a successful stockbroker residing across the pond with his wife Heather (Embeth Davidtz), son Zach (Jack Champion), and daughter Emily (Lily Aspell). Matt and his boss Anders are about to close a huge deal, but it's clear that Matt is neglecting his family. Much to Matt's dismay, his wife needs a spa day, so she asks Matt to take the kids to school.

Matt and his family start arguing as soon as they get into the car. However, they are unaware that a terrible situation is about to unfold. An unknown caller has planted a bomb underneath Matt's car seat, forcing him to embark on a high-speed chase through the city while completing challenging tasks. With his children trapped in the back seat and the bomb set to detonate if they leave the car, what should have been a routine drive turns into a perilous game of survival. Matt must follow the caller's increasingly risky instructions, racing against time to save his family.

Liam Neeson found a new niche as an action hero after the success of Taken in 2009. He has since starred in several films where he showcases his fighting skills. While some may have issues with this, I believe it's essential to do what it takes to succeed as an aging actor. However, Retribution's screenplay appears to have been written for someone else and not tailored to Neeson's strengths. One of the first things audiences will notice about the film is the lack of fisticuffs. Instead, the film has a confined setting and attempts to employ moments of suspense that go nowhere. In addition, a kid out of film school could come up with a much better twist than what we see here.

However, I will credit the actors portraying Matt's kids as they avoid cliched performances, but the rest of the supporting cast is here to serve as caricatures. Embeth Davidtz deserves much better, while Matthew Modine delivers a particularly hammy performance. The only supporting character worth mentioning is Norma Dumezeni's character, Angela Brinkmann, a cop on a mission to find the truth by any means necessary.

While Retribution is likely worth a one-time watch for Neeson fans, the film is another hackneyed effort in his catalog that will quickly become a distant memory.

Final Grade: D+

Retribution opens in theaters tonight.


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