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Film Review: RETRIBUTION (2023): Liam Neeson is Back in Action Hero Mode in a Successful, Fast-Paced Thriller

Liam Neeson Retribution

Retribution Review

Retribution (2023) Film Review, a movie directed by Nimrod Antal, written by Alberto Marini and Christopher Salmanpour and starring Liam Neeson, Noma Dumezweni, Matthew Modine, Embeth Davidtz, Lilly Aspell, Jack Champion, Arian Moayed, Emily Kusche, Michael S. Ruscheinsky, Christian Koerner and Nedy John Cross.

Liam Neeson is back in director Nimrod Antal’s twisty thriller, Retribution. Neeson’s recent movies haven’t been bad but have often lacked something that his biggest success, Taken, seemed to possess. Luckily, this new film has an international setting and thrilling suspense alongside some solid performances that help to make it Neeson’s most accomplished action film in years.

Neeson and Embeth Davidtz (always superb) play Matt and Heather Turner, the parents of two kids named Zach (Jack Champion) and Emily (Lilly Aspell). Matt is a businessman who we eventually learn has had some bad deals recently. His marriage with Heather seems to be on the fritz but Matt loves his family, especially his kids.  Matthew Modine (remember him?) serves as Anders Muller, a business partner of Matt’s who is introduced early in the film and comes back into the plot later on.

This film’s plot kicks into gear when Matt receives a phone call on a cell phone that has been left in his Mercedes. Zach and Emily are arguing in the back seats of the vehicle as the voice on the other end of that phone tells Matt that a bomb has planted under his seat. If he gets out of the car (or any of them do), the car will explode. Zach and Emily are playing with their cell phones but the disguised voice on the other end of the line tells Matt he must take the phones from the kids and throw them out the window. Soon, Matt grows scared and his kids become aware of the situation which is absolutely frightening. Especially, when Matt’s friend, Sylvain (Arian Moayed) blows up in another car alongside a woman and a cop.

Emily Kusche plays Mila, Zach’s girlfriend, who was riding a motorcycle behind Matt and his kids which made Matt think she was the one following them before her helmet was removed. This voice on the phone is apparently tracking Matt’s every move and the plot keeps turning in different and surprising directions.

Noma Dumezweni expertly portrays tough-as-nails agent Angela Brickmann who is soon in pursuit of Matt who has been framed for the murders of Sylvain and those two other people. When Anders shows up, the voice on the other end of the phone tells Matt he must kill Anders or Matt and his kids will be blown up in the car.

This is a good action movie with a breakneck pace but don’t look too closely because there are plot holes. If you are going to be entertained, you will certainly be kept on the edge of your seat by the twists and turns the plot unveils, especially when Matt and his kids drive through a tunnel and all the phones in a five mile radius are turned off making communication with the crazed caller impossible. Which way will Matt turn when Angela accuses him of potentially having kidnapped the kids for his own personal reasons?

Dumezweni is perfectly cast in her role. There’s a point in the movie where Angela makes the audience suspect that maybe Matt could be up to no good and then there’s a doubt cast over his character. Because Matt is played by Neeson, the audience will hope that Matt hasn’t staged this elaborate scheme for a profiteering scheme. There’s also a scenario where the wife, Heather, is forced to go to the bank and get contents from a safe deposit box but when she does this, the caller tells Matt to have Heather give the money to a man in a suit (Michael S. Ruscheinsky). The plot then continues to surprise.

The really fine supporting cast adds integrity to the movie. Both Champion and Aspell are terrific as the kids, adding likability and plausibility to the film. Modine is excellent in one of his best parts in years capturing the essence of his character throughout while Dumezweni certainly holds the viewers attention as her character is forced to confront the fact that Matt may not be lying about the caller stalking him and his kids.

Even at his age, Neeson can keep the audience rooting for him and is one of Hollywood’s most capable action heroes when given the right script. This script is a good one and the direction the story takes steers the movie in unpredictable ways which makes it immensely satisfying. Examining some of the plot holes, though, after seeing the film deducts a couple of points from the picture. However, while you’re watching the movie, it is doubtful you will notice any of these inconsistencies in the story line.

Retribution is an assured Neeson thriller that is among the actor’s best recent action films. Audiences haven’t all responded positively to the picture because it does become frustrating to watch in spots. However, that’s what makes it so intriguing. The movie flings plot twist after plot twist at the viewer and that will keep people guessing just how this scenario within the film will all turn out. Retribution is worth seeing for its well assembled cast headed by Neeson. It will keep the majority of its target audience captivated throughout with well orchestrated action scenes. It’s a perfect way to end the summer movie season.

Rating: 7.5/10

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