CLEARLY, SEVEN GAMES, seven novels, five live-action films, four animated films and innumerable novelisations and action heroes and other merchandise wasn’t quite enough Resident Evil.
The live-action films were enough for me, and I hope that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter will, as the name suggests, genuinely be the final chapter in an abysmal 15-year-long film franchise which relies on a single plot, tweaked ever so slightly with each instalment, the athleticism and charisma of Milla Jovovich and the fans of the game who fill the cinemas every few years probably hoping for something better than the last effort.
The plot is weak. Take, for example, the fact that Alice is told that for no apparent reason the 4,000 or so people left living on the planet will die within 48 hours. It’s the sort of lazy plot device that suggests that writer-director-producer Paul W. S. Anderson just doesn’t care anymore.
In the five-minute preamble to The Final Chapter, super soldier Alice (Jovovich) explains how Umbrella Corporation scientist James Marcus created the T-Virus to cure his daughter of a disease, only later to discover that there was an unfortunate side effect to the T-Virus, specifically that it turned people into monstrous members of the undead. This unsurprisingly caused a few problems, including the deaths of nearly everyone on the planet, and at the opening of the film Alice emerges from the sewers running underneath a ruined and overrun Washington D.C. to meet someone who has information about, among other things, how to save those left.
You might have gathered from that paragraph that the plot is weak. It gets worse. Take, for example, the fact that Alice is told that for no apparent reason the 4,000 or so people left living on the planet will die within 48 hours. It’s the sort of lazy plot device that suggests that writer-director-producer Paul W. S. Anderson just doesn’t care anymore. We’re reminded often that the Umbrella Corporation embodies the worst elements of corporate capitalism with religious fanaticism, and is therefore especially villainous. Not that this is done with any subtlety. In one scene some of the corporation’s various expendable mooks chant ‘unbeliever!’ and ‘cast her out!’ at our pulpy heroine, while designated villain Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen), who was also the villain of the last film (it was a clone, if you can believe that) makes speeches about ‘a world ready for the righteous and pure to inherit.’
On the the subject of clones, someone once said of magical realism that it’s hard to sustain tension when at any moment, one of the characters might grow wings and fly out of the window. It’s far harder to sustain tension or evoke any sense of catharsis when any downed hero or villain might be revealed to be a clone.
It’s hard to sustain tension or evoke any sense of catharsis when any downed hero or villain might be revealed to be a clone.
A frenetic pace isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Both Mad Max: Fury Road and John Wick, for instance, were wild, violent and unrelenting fun. But The Final Chapter is cut so fast and so aggressively that half the time you can’t tell what the hell is happening, and that wastes the genuine physical talents of Milla Jovovich, who performs as many of her own stunts as she can and looks bored when she isn’t beating the brakes off something that looks like it didn’t make the final edit of a H. P. Lovecraft novel. The dialogue, meanwhile, is stupid, and half the time delivered with the same glazed expression that I had watching this film.
Maybe fans of the games will like the film (the franchise is about to make over a billion dollars, so clearly someone is going to see the films) but that doesn’t change the fact that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is boring and predictable, and about as fun as a headache. And what’s worst about it is that we can’t even be certain it is the final chapter.