I sit before you a broken, devastated Resident Evil fan after watching Paul W.S. Anderson’s final nail in Alice’s coffin, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. This is coming from a Resident Evil apologist, nonetheless. Someone who enthusiastically purchased the original trilogy on special edition Blu-ray. Someone who’s most swoon-worthy cinematic crush is Sienna Guillory as Jill Valentine. Someone who goes to bat for Kevin Durand as Barry Burton, or refers to all
six five previous Resident Evil movies as sweet horror junk food. These sentiments are wholly sincere, but even an Alice devotee like myself can’t recognize The Final Chapter as a fitting means to any franchise “end” (there’s always sequel potential). Abandon hope and pray for a swift finish all you want – welcome to the lowest depths of mainstream horror Hell.
Anderson’s “last” RE hurrah opens on Alice (Milla Jovovich), who rises from a Washington, D.C. bunker that’s covered in wasteland ruble. Nothing is left of the White House stronghold that Alice once tried to defend, but there’s no time for sightseeing – before we know it, Alice is contacted by the Red Queen, and word of a worldwide cure is delivered. Alice has 48 hours to reach Raccoon City, infiltrate The Hive and retrieve an airborne antidote, otherwise the remaining safe zones will be destroyed by infected attackers. Can Alice put a stop to Earth’s apocalyptic doom? Or will the return of Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) counteract Alice’s heroics.
Well, here’s a better question – does it even matter?
Trying to comprehend the motivations and plot devices of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is like being stuck in a tornado of corpses, gunshots and rocket explosions. Alice may be given a definitive mission, but her trajectory is powered by nothing but ADD-inspired action sequences. Not a single second of Anderson’s sullen snoozer proves any existence of a script, as his chaotic collection of CGI-splattered action overshadows development, story and flow. You’ll watch in awe as “short haired mechanic girl” runs away from demonic CGI guard dogs, or as “Thin Man” (no, really – that’s how he’s credited) dies a boring death we don’t care about. This is the sixquel you feared – zombie blastin’ nonsense without a thread of cinematic integrity.
Well, sorry. There IS one single motivation – Alice saving the world. Her Phoenix-like rise from D.C.’s ashes leads to an immediate interaction with the Red Queen, where she’s told that one single vile can end a whole franchise’s worth of destruction. Nothing like full-circle coincidences that reveal a singular means to so many ends. No mention of past characters like Jill Valentine, Ada Wong, or Leon Kennedy. No reference to other battles waging. Just Alice and a computer hologram (played by Milla and Paul’s actual daughter), eventually joined by Claire Redfield because there has to be at least ONE familiar face playing sidekick – but even at that, Claire is a ghost lost amidst nameless rebels who wastefully exist as body-count fodder. A film this thin can’t afford to never catch its breath, but Anderson’s dystopian BMW-commercial-gone-haywire blazes forward at a numbing, disengaging pace.
As Dr. Issacs storms a dilapidated skyscraper in Raccoon City, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter flashes all its worst attributes. Alice perches atop the structure, where Claire’s survivalist crew all reside. You’ve also got medic Doc (Eoin Macken), some dude called Razor (Fraser James), mechanic Abigail (Ruby Rose), hardass Christian (William Levy) – you know, any generic character whose personality is defined by nicknames. These are Alice’s compadres in battle, as Issacs leads a horde of undead towards their drawbridge entrance.
As Isaacs rolls towards the Raccoon City settlement, he barks orders to “release the bait.” A woman is sent running towards the upright gate, and Alice immediately orders said gate lowered EVEN THOUGH HUNDREDS OF ZEDS ARE SPRINTING BEHIND THE GIRL. Yes – veteran soldier Alice risks a whole colony of uninfected lives just to save one more who is OBVIOUSLY being used as a trap, thus allowing zombies to breach secure areas.
Then, more flood their downstairs lobby, warriors hold flimsy barriers, a nameless woman dies in super-slomo like we’re missing something significant, Christian slices a few zombie heads because he’s the established “bad dude” – what the hell is going on? Nonsense decisions, meaningless deaths that don’t register and absolutely zero investment besides suffocating mainstream spectacle? Anderson almost feels like he’s in too deep, and instead of scripting his salvation, random action set pieces are established as distractions. Glaring, unimportant distractions.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter renders itself useless upon so many occasions, and for such silly reasons. Take Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), for example. The tactical assassin who presents Alice’s worthiest foe. His reappearance surely means some big boss battle inside The Hive’s deepest, most lavish reaches, right? Nah, how about a door crushes his leg and he just bleeds out uselessly. Sound fun?
Or what about the film’s twist – this generational triumvirate of Alices that must save the world together. Why hold secrets from one another, like NOT telling clone Alice (main character Alice) that the anti-virus WON’T kill her? “We had to see if you’d make the ultimate sacrifice.” BUT, LIKE, WHAT IF SHE DIDN’T BECAUSE SHE DIDN’T WANT TO DIE? The whole film is business sleaze without social implications (another genre offering with opinions on overpopulation) and rage without vision. Messy, cut-rate franchise bullshit that cashes in on nothing but main character appeal, lacking enthusiasm and genre-defining power. See Alice. See Alice shoot. See Alice stand still just long enough to let Isaacs catch the antidote as she drops it.
Still stuck on negatives, Anderson’s action is dark, frantic and uninspired for a Resident Evil film. One scene where Jovovich kicks the shit out of Umbrella goons might be considered “fun” – because she’s hanging upside-down from a bridge by her ankle – but most sequences gloomily go about zombie carnage with blurry definition. Alice “kicks ass” so to say, but a glossy overcoat lacks the practical appeal such monstrous creatures deserve.
Hulking fanged beasts made of muscle, or killer pooches with exposed rib cages – all rendered without much life (even for zombies). This is a franchise that’s lost its sense of entertainment, as deadly encounters now stink of rotted flesh and soulless repetition. Go back and check the intensity of Anderson’s first Resident Evil compared to this homogeneous, over-exposed blockbuster now indistinguishable from equally malaise “action-horror” dreck. My, what a stark, disappointing contrast.
Say what you will about Resident Evil: Retribution, but at least an attempt was made to marry video game worlds with Alice’s quest for T-Virus elimination. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter doesn’t even do fan-service right – it regurgitates nondescript horror vomit for almost two hours. Flashy zombie-head-dragon thingys fly overhead while pointless characters suffer even more pointless fates. Why? Just so Anderson can promise a final resolution, only to have Alice drive off mumbling about how the antivirus won’t cure our world overnight – SO YOU KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS.
Cue the same flying nemesis she opened the film fighting in hot-pursuit as the credits roll, because this cycle is never going to end. Don’t do it Paul W.S. Anderson. Double-tap Resident Evil in the head and move on – as this nostalgia-based corpse of a film shows, there’s nothing left for you (or us) in Raccoon City.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter proves that there's nothing left in the tank of this grossly nondescript zombie-shootin' franchise.