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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

The Devil Take the Hindmost.

Retribution on IMDb

Plot Overview


vigilant kidcop writing ticketKaboom!happy familyGerman financier Matt Turner (Liam Neeson) keeps in shape on the punching bag, handles his clients' calls with aplomb, and argues ineffectually with his wife (Embeth Davidtz) over who drives the kids to school. This morning he receives an anonymous phone call en route threatening to blow up his car unless he follows the caller's instructions precisely. A demonstration follows. His ability to comply is hindered by his daughter Emily (Lilly Aspell) refusing to believe him, his son Zack (Jack Champion) conniving with his girl­friend Mila (Emily Kusche) to skip school, and the polizei questioning him for his erratic driving. He is really in the dark about his caller's intentions, but if ever you find your­self part of a scam and you can't identify the mark. it's probably you.

Sun Tzu in his Art of War advises never to completely cut of all avenues of escape to your enemy, for then he will fight with desperation. This is here demonstrated when a motor­cycle tail won't let Matt shake him, and he abruptly ends the chase and the motor­cycle. His would-be bomber like­wise has every contingency so well planned that there is no escape from an unhappy ending, so Matt acts in desperation, along the lines of a Sherwood Anderson story: “Men some­times did a thing they called, ‘going it blind,’ and at such moments did the least blind acts of their whole lives. The truth was that the mind working alone was but a one-sided, maimed thing” (200). He throws caution to the wind and lets his muscle training from his workouts take over. “Now he could think more thoughts, have more fancies— ¶“In the fanciful picture he had climbed up to a high place above the sea and … had run to the end of a cliff and had leaped off into space” (201).


card playersThe action in the story lends itself to comparison with one of Kenny Rogers's songs concerning a chance encounter with “The Gambler” on a train to nowhere. He offered his fellow passenger the advice that “the secret to surviving is knowing what to throw away and knowing what to keep.” The refrain of the song goes:

You've got to know when to hold 'em, Know when to fold 'em, Know when to walk away, Know when to run. You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table. There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

This wisdom of the gambling man's repartee is old as the hills and was passed on by a raconteur, Agur in Proverbs 30:1, whose four meta­phors offered the same life advice as did Rogers's Gambler. That we find in, (Prov. 30:29-31) “There be three things which go well, yea, four are comely in going: A lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any; A grey­hound; an he goat also; and a king, against whom there is no rising up.”

car rentalWe have Agur's “lion which is strongest among beasts, and turneth not away for any,” and we have Rogers's “know[ing] when to hold 'em.” In our movie when Matt is stopped at a radio-signal-blocked road­block, he tells the authorities he's still sitting on a pressure trigger and can't get up. They seem intent on inter­rogating him rather than going after the remote bomber whose existence they doubt, so he decides to do it him­self, road­block or no roadblock.

We have Agur's “king, against whom there is no rising up,” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to fold 'em.” A king who knows when to give in to his subjects doesn't experience any uprising. Matt surrenders peace­fully from within his car and lets the bomb squad check it out as snipers keep him in their sites.

dwarf goatWe have Agur's “he goat also” and we have Rogers's “Know[ing] when to walk away.” After they discover there is no pressure trigger under the back seats, the children are free to get out. Zack, how­ever, decides he wants to stay and take his chances with his dad in the front. No, it's better he walk away while he's still in one piece.

We have Agur's “greyhound” and Rogers's “Know[ing] when to run.” The mad bomber sets Matt up at a rendezvous where he wastes the other car (“three colleagues from your company die in three days”) leaving Matt holding the bag. The polizei are going to be pursuing him right quick, so he best make tracks out of there.

The gambler gave the advice:

You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table.
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done.

After he's through dealing with the hairy situation, if he can, Matt still has the home front to take care of.

Production Values

” (2023) is the third remake of Spain's 2015 “El Desconocido” (Retribution) after Germany's “Don't. Get. Out!” (2018) and South Korea's “Hard Hit” (2021). It was directed by Nimród Antal. It was written by Alberto Marini and Christopher Salmanpour. It stars Liam Neeson, Noma Dumezweni and Matthew Modine. Neeson fits like a glove an age-appropriate role. Modine has a good grip on his villain role, making good use of what screen time he's allotted. Dumezweni plays Angela Brickmann, a self-possessed and competent black woman, the top dawg in Europol the agency of jurisdiction. As such she twists the tension tighter when it becomes evident that her looser Afro time sense prevents her from getting her head around the true villain's tight timing in a country—Germany—where “the trains all run on time.” Every­body already thinks Matt is the culprit, and now this! She's not going to be expending precious agency resources looking for some other mad bomber when they've already got him. Being a mother, rather, she'll go home and look after her picka­nin­nies. It's reminiscent of Anderson's “peculiarly American notion, always being indirectly repeated in news­papers, magazines and books. Back of it was an insane, wishy-washy philosophy of life. ‘All things work together for good. God's in his heaven, all's right with the world. All men are created free and equal.’ ¶“What an ungodly lot of meaningless sayings drummed into the ears of men and women trying to live their lives!” (208-9). The movie versions from the other countries will undoubtedly employ different casting types.

MPAA rated it R for some language and violence. The back­ground score deserves special mention. Flavio Labiano had sharp camera work. Steven Mirkovich's editing was tight and on the ball. The plot unfortunately had more holes in it than Swiss cheese; could have used consultants aplenty. It was filmed on location in Mitte, Berlin, Germany. Runtime is 1½ hours.

Review Conclusion w/a Christian's Recommendation

If you like Neeson action flicks, this one is not past age. That guy never quits. He's got family troubles here due to his neglect, but he has a nice change of heart and his wife & kids respond. It's worth the short viewing time.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action flick. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Average special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Three and a half stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture was quoted from the King James Version of 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Anderson, Sherwood. Many Marriages. University of Oregon, English Department, circa 1923. Print.

Rogers, Kenny. Songwriter Don Schlitz. “The Gambler.” Lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Pub. LLC. Web.