Movie Review: Retreat (2011)
“No neighbours. No help. No escape.”
Director: Carl Tibbetts
Cast: Thandie Newton, Cillian Murphy, Jamie Bell
Synopsis: A couple attempting to save their marriage at a remote island retreat take in a soldier who claims that a deadly airborne virus is sweeping Europe.
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Retreat could have been much better had its characters been rather more compelling and a little less unlikeable. Cillian Murphy (28 Days Later, The Dark Knight) and Thandie Newton (Flirting, The Pursuit of Happyness) play a troubled couple who decide to spend some time in a cottage on a remote island to try and patch up their failing marriage. The wife suffered a miscarriage and feels her husband hasn’t paid enough attention to her or grieved sufficiently. She can only confide this to her laptop, however, and shows little evidence of wanting to actually work at rebuilding their damaged relationship. The husband seems pretty clueless, and tiptoes around her like a nervous kitten. Into this unhappy situation stumbles a bloodied soldier (Jamie Bell – King Kong), the survivor (he says) of a highly infectious airborne virus that has struck the mainland.
I suppose the character of the husband had to be fairly passive in order for him to grow a pair once Jamie Bell’s alpha male squaddie makes his appearance, but for the first hour of the movie, when his wife is treating him like something she just stepped in, you just feel like telling him to, well, grow a pair. For differing reasons, neither of them is particularly likable, so we’re not too concerned about their fate when the soldier appears, and consequently there’s precious little tension to keep us involved.
Despite this weak start to the film, things pick up considerably in the final third, as power switches back and forth between the characters. All three leads give convincing performances, particularly Jamie Bell playing against type as a possibly borderline psychopath. It also manages to keep you guessing as to whether or not he is telling the truth about the virus until the very last shot. The ending is bleak and downbeat and, to be honest, although the film has finally managed to build up a fair amount of suspense by this time, as the end credits roll you’re left wondering whether it was all worth it…
(Reviewed 30th November 2016)