‘Retribution’ movie review: Putting pedal to metal for a fun ride with Liam Neeson

This father-with-his-family-in-peril action thriller zips through its delightfully short run time with brief stops at all usual signals

Updated - August 25, 2023 05:48 pm IST

Published - August 25, 2023 05:46 pm IST

A still from ‘Retribution’ 

A still from ‘Retribution’ 

There is this to say about unlikely action star, Liam Neeson thrillers — they are all about being on the move. Post the mega success of the Taken movies (“I will find you and I will kill you”), the 71-year-old has been in fraught situations on trains, planes and automobiles that require his very particular set of skills.

Director: Nimród Antal
Cast: Liam Neeson, Noma Dumezweni, Lilly Aspell, Jack Champion, Embeth Davidtz, Matthew Modine
Storyline: While dropping his children to school, an investment banker is held hostage by a voice on the phone and a bomb under his car seat
Run time: 91 minutes

And so it is in Nimród Antal’s Retribution. Matt Turner (Neeson) is an investment banker in Berlin making pots of money, living in a beautiful house with his wife Heather (Embeth Davidtz), son, Zach (Jack Champion) and daughter Emily (Lilly Aspell). Matt is a super-busy dad, and reluctantly agrees to drop Zach and Emily at school as Heather has an important meeting.

Once in his posh SUV with chipper Emily and sulky Zach in the back, Matt makes a call to a nervous investor, on the insistence of his boss and friend Anders Muller (Matthew Modine). Zach sneers and says Matt makes his money by lying to everyone including the family.

And then there is a phone call from an unknown phone lying in the car. Matt picks it up only to learn to his horror that there is a bomb under his seat, which will detonate if they try to leave the car. The voice on the phone wants Matt to execute a series of tasks all of which implicate Matt in a gigantic conspiracy and ends up having him chased around Berlin by the law led by Angela Brickmann (Noma Dumezweni).

While there are moments when you wonder if you are in a Zucker Brothers spoof of Speed, Retribution (a remake of the 2015 Spanish film El Desconocido) manages tokeep you engrossed. There are explosions and car chases aplenty, and then there is Liam Neeson fixing you with his steely grey blue eyes whenever your attention begins to flag.

It takes a very particular set of skills to keep the audience engaged when a short action movie is punctuated by long stretches of conversation on the phone. Neeson does it with flair and manages to convince you of the life-threatening situation his family is in... and also of the fact that he will surely get them out. That calls for very strong acting chops, which Antal, who directed the muscular heist film Armored, has made good use of in this sleek, spare action movie.

Retribution is currently running in theatres

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