Veteran actor Liam Neeson returns in his typical “super dad” role in “Retribution.” This film, directed by thriller specialist filmmaker Nimród Antal, is a remake of the Spanish film “El Desconocido” (2015). Uniquely, this film has also been remade twice: the German film “Don’t. Get. Out!” (2018) and the South Korean film “Hard Hit” (2021). Through Neeson and the filmmaker’s talent, will this film, with a budget of only USD 20 million, be able to say more?

Matt Turner (Neeson) is a successful financial partner who lives in Berlin, Germany, with his wife and two children, Emily and Zach. His wife asks Matt to take his two children to school one morning. Who would have thought that Matt’s car seat had been fitted with a bomb that would explode if he got out of his car seat? Under pressure from the bomber, Matt tries to find a way to save himself and his son and daughter. Later, Matt also becomes a strong suspect in the bombings that have recently become widespread in Berlin.

The three previous films make it easy to compare this latest remake version. “Retribution” is a thriller film that is technically presented as being more established than the others. Through charming cinematography and editing, the filmmaker is skilled at playing with the intensity of his tense actions. Neeson, who plays his typical role, again delivers charmingly with his signature style and expressions when in a stressful situation. “There’s a bomb on my car!” or “I want to talk to my wife!” the actor’s fans know precisely; these concise sentences are delivered in a typical heavy tone.

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The technical side and Neeson are differentiators, but that doesn’t mean this latest remake is better than the previous ones. One big note is the drama side, especially the protagonist’s chemistry with his two children while in the car. In the previous version, this point was the film’s biggest strength besides its thriller elements. The core conflict is a family problem, the protagonist’s relationship with his wife and two children, especially the oldest child. The previous two films emphasized this factor strongly, while “Retribution” emphasizes the thriller and the twist of the antagonist’s appearance. “Retribution” even negates the son factor before the climax by presenting a classic duel between the protagonist and antagonist. This action doesn’t even sting.

The actor’s charisma is unmatched for his typical thriller role, but “Retribution” is trapped in a remake story that is inferior to its predecessor. As a fan of the star, Neeson already looks very tired for this typical role. How long will producers take advantage of the star’s commercial potential in this repetitive way? The star deserves more respect for his brilliant career so far. This is a decline for the filmmaker since “Predators” (2010), more than a decade ago.

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His hobby has been watching films since childhood, and he studied film theory and history autodidactically after graduating from architectural studies. He started writing articles and reviewing films in 2006. Due to his experience, the author was drawn to become a teaching staff at the private Television and Film Academy in Yogyakarta, where he taught Film History, Introduction to Film Art, and Film Theory from 2003 to 2019. His debut film book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2008, which divides film art into narrative and cinematic elements. The second edition of the book, "Understanding Film," was published in 2018. This book has become a favorite reference for film and communication academics throughout Indonesia. He was also involved in writing the Montase Film Bulletin Compilation Book Vol. 1-3 and "30 Best Selling Indonesian Films 2012-2018." Additionally, he authored the "Horror Film Book: From Caligari to Hereditary" (2023) and "Indonesian Horror Film: Rising from the Grave" (2023). Until now, he continues to write reviews of the latest films at and is actively involved in all film productions at the Montase Film Community. His short films have received high appreciation at many festivals, both local and international. Recently, his writing was included in the shortlist (top 15) of Best Film Criticism at the 2022 Indonesian Film Festival. From 2022 until now, he has also been a practitioner-lecturer for the Film Criticism and Film Theory courses at the Yogyakarta Indonesian Institute of the Arts in the Independent Practitioner Program.


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