Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Retreat (2011)

**This review contains spoilers**

Martin (Cillian Murphy) and Kate (Thandie Newton) Kennedy are visiting a remote island for their annual holiday retreat. Doug (Jimmy Yuill) is a close friend, and he owns a cottage on the island, which happens to be the only dwelling. Doug’s ferry provides the only reliable form of transportation to and from the island, but Martin and Kate are targeting a much needed vacation with no visits to the mainland.

Kate’s miscarriage has put a strain on the marriage, and Kate and Martin receive an unexpected surprise one day. Bloody and beaten, a stranger wearing military fatigues collapses in front of the cottage. Martin and Kate take the unconscious soldier inside, giving him a chance to rest, and eventually get back on his feet.

But as he sleeps off his injuries, Kate notices a gun on the soldier’s waist. Martin carefully removes the gun, but when he finally wakes up, the soldier reveals a devastating pandemic. Pvt. Jack Coleman (Jamie Bell) is a survivor from the outbreak of a deadly airborne disease called the Argromoto Flu. According to Coleman’s story, anyone who leaves the cottage or the island is in danger of catching the Argromoto Flu, which causes a painful, bloody death. Jack convinces Martin to board up the house, and stay put until the threat of the disease passes, but Kate isn’t buying into Jack’s story. Tensions rise, and as time passes, one thing becomes clear, Jack will not let Martin and Kate leave the cottage under any circumstances.

A good debut for director Carl Tibbetts. Tibbetts creates the perfect tense and eerie atmosphere, and there’s a strong sense of looming danger and fear throughout Retreat. It’s an impressive feat for a film that primarily revolves around three characters.

No real complaints from the cast. Thandie Newton and Cillian Murphy are believable, as the distraught and terrified married couple, and Jamie Bell’s “I’M NOT CRAZY!” act is entertaining. Doug isn’t worth mentioning, because you see him at the beginning, and then that’s it.

Was Jack telling the truth about the Argromoto Flu? Or is Jack just a nutcase, who’s taking out his frustrations on innocent people? Well, Jack wasn’t lying about the airborne disease. The Argromoto Flu is real, but the disease hasn’t reached the stage of a global outbreak yet, because Jack is the only carrier for the Argomonto Flu. Serving punishment for his crimes, Jack was experimented on at a military compound. After the experimentations, Jack contracted the Argromoto Flu.

Martin and Kate unknowingly housed a sick man, and out of panic, Jack decided to barricade himself, Martin, and Kate inside the cottage. Jack was trying to contain the flu, but  towards the end, Martin catches Jack’s disease, and as a result of the Argomonto Flu, Jack dies a slow and painful death. Furious, Kate refuses to listen to Jack’s last desperate plea: the military is lying about a cure for the flu via radio broadcast, and they will kill anyone, who tries to leave the island. Upset over her husband’s death, Kate decides to shoot and kill Jack.

But it’s not over yet! Kate prepares to leave the island. She loads her husband’s body into a life raft, and as she prepares to cast-off, a sniper from a helicopter shoots her in the forehead. Kate’s body falls next to Martin’s body, and the military helicopter flies away.

So Jack told a bunch of lies, giving Kate a legit reason not to trust him. But he tells one major truth at the end, Kate kills him, and moments later, Kate is executed by the military! Ugh, such a shocking and gut-wrenching ending.

Retreat is a solid thriller. I enjoyed the “can we trust him?” game of cat-and-mouse between Martin, Kate, and Jack, and the shocking twists at the end were just great. Others will probably see an irritating thriller, that features a lunatic screaming about the end of the world, while torturing an instant married couple. Either way, I don’t think you’ll have any middle ground, when you decide to grade the quality of Retreat.

Final Rating: 7/10

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