On Chinese New Year I snuck in a viewing of the latest Resident Evil movie. I have watched all the RE films and really like the first one with Retribution (5) and Afterlife (4) also being enjoyable. Paul W.S. Anderson directed those previous installments, skipping Apocalypse (2) and Extinction (3) which I found less enjoyable. Since Final Chapter (6) was directed by Paul I thought it would be on the better end of the sextology. It was not.
Spoilers to follow. Also, I’m assuming you’ve seen the previous films.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is based on the premise Alice (Milla Jovovitch) can save the approximately 5000 remaining of survivors of humanity (in the world!) if she can release the airborne version of the T-Anti-Virus within 48 hours. The T-Anti-Virus is at the Hive from the first film. If she misses the deadline no one survives. Now as a plot device this gives the heroine a countdown to which the audience can easily relate. Five minutes left, better hurry! What is not considered is what if she makes it with one second? Do all 5000 still live or just a paltry few? But I’m not really worried about such plot holes when I see a RE film. I’m there to see action scenes with Milla against zombies, zombie dogs, lickers and axemen but I don’t know that I got all of that.
For the creatures there were zombies, super-mutated, CG dog zombies, a big, fast, zombie with sharp, pointy teeth and some flying things. In fact the big bad turned out to be Dr. Isaacs (Ian Glen) who is using Eric Roberts’ DOA: Dead or Alive tech to make him an amazing fighter in the form of predictive combat software. (FYI — DOA produced by Paul W.S. Anderson.) The problem with the action is we’ve seen it all before and better, even within the RE series. The movie is broken into three acts. First is Alice getting to Racoon City, the second in Racoon City where Alice meets a survivor group there and they defend against a zombie horde and the third is a small team entering the Hive to get the T-Anti-Virus. RE is produced by Sony who also put out Underworld where I suffered from how darkness was done. Final Chapter had some issues with darkness but not as bad as Blood Wars though in the zombie horde attack that closed out the second act I had a hard time telling which characters were dying.
None of these movies survive on Alice alone. At it’s heart Resident Evil wants to be a zombie film and in zombie films people die and those deaths work better if we know those people as characters. In a film series you can bring back characters from previous installments and not have to spend time establishing them. Unfortunately the only characters to return from previous films (apart from Alice and Issacs) were Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and Wesker (Shawn Roberts.) And Wesker’s one of the bad guys! So we had to introduce new people. There’s Doc (Eoin Macken) — leader of the survivors at Racoon City, Christian (William Levy) — jerk who wants to be in charge, Razor (Frazier James) — black guy and Abigail (Ruby Rose) — gadgeteer. When they enter the Hive a red-headed guy with a beard (Milton Schorr) joins as well. Thing is, there’s an inside guy working for Umbrella and he has to be one of these people. We’re even told this by the Red Queen (Ever Anderson — Paul and Milla’s daughter.) So we have to wait and see but we (and Alice) know it’s always one of the ones who are left at the end.
Overall Final Chapter isn’t worth seeing unless you’ve seen the previous five. And even then not really but at this stage you don’t have a choice. It spends a lot of it’s time trying to tie the series together when it probably should have just tried to be a good action film. Interestingly it was still left open ended (not a cliff-hanger as in the last two) but a more hopeful ending.
Note: Just so you know I like almost everything I’ve seen from Paul W.S. Anderson and I’ve seen most of his stuff: The Resdient Evil films, Mortal Kombat, Three Musketeers, Soldier, AvP, Death Race and Event Horizon. They’re not high drama in any sense and I’m not saying they don’t have their flaws but they’re fun. I haven’t seen Pompeii (the one with Kit Harrington) but that may be it.