In recent years, Liam Neeson has become synonymous with action-packed thrillers, propelled primarily by the unexpected success of “Taken” in 2008. However, his latest venture, “Retribution,” directed by Nimród Antal, seems to have missed the mark entirely. Despite hints of Neeson’s desire for something more meaningful, the film falls flat, lacking both excitement and purpose.
Neeson stars as Matt Turner, a Berlin-based investment banker whose relentless dedication to work has strained his family life. The story takes a chilling turn when Matt discovers a bomb planted in his car, controlled by an anonymous caller. With his family held hostage, he is coerced into completing dangerous tasks while evading both the police and the manipulative voice on the other end of the line.
“Retribution” is a remake of the Spanish thriller “El desconocido,” marking the third adaptation since its 2015 release. Despite its intriguing premise, the film fails to captivate due to a lackluster screenplay by Chris Salmanpour. The characters lack depth, and even the plot twists are disappointingly predictable. Antal’s direction, though competent in his earlier works like “Control” and episodes of “Stranger Things,” fails to inject any excitement into the narrative.
What makes the film’s mediocrity even more disheartening is the talent involved. Neeson, along with co-stars Embeth Davidtz and Matthew Modine, has proven his acting prowess in the past, and Antal’s track record includes noteworthy films such as “Vacancy” and “Predators.” Despite their professionalism, the film remains a lackluster effort that fails to leave a lasting impression.
“Retribution” promises an “immersive ticking clock thriller,” but it falls short on every front. Compared to Neeson’s previous ventures like “Cold Pursuit,” where he portrayed a determined father seeking revenge in a unique setting, “Retribution” feels like a wasted opportunity. While “Cold Pursuit” managed to blend action, drama, and dark humor effectively, “Retribution” struggles to find its footing, resulting in a forgettable cinematic experience.
Ultimately, “Retribution” is a disappointment that is likely to fade from memory soon after its brief stint in theaters. For those seeking a thrilling Neeson remake worth their time, “Cold Pursuit” offers a more engaging and satisfying cinematic experience. As for “Retribution,” it serves as a reminder that even a cast and crew of talented individuals cannot salvage a film devoid of substance and creativity.