With Resident Evil 7: Biohazard coming out later this month, the video game series doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. The same can’t be said for the film series by Paul W.S. Anderson and starring Milla Jovovich, which comes to an end with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Is it a fitting send off to a 21st-century action heroine or a cynical cash grab before the studio pulls the plug?
If you’ve no idea what’s been going on in the last five Resident Evil films you should check out our “Story So Far here”, but here’s the short version; the almost comically evil Umbrella Corporation developed a medical miracle called the T-virus, but later found it had some unintended side effects including sudden death, zombification, and mutation into nightmarish monsters.
After an accident wiped her memory in the first movie Milla Jovovich’s Alice has been trying to escape Umbrella’s machinations while kicking a lot of zombie butt along the way. From the third movie onward she did this in a post-apocalyptic world after the virus eventually escaped between movies and wiped out most of the world’s population and ecosystem. Along the way she’s met plenty of characters from the video games, developed superpowers thanks to bonding with the T-Virus and then had them taken away from her.
Welcome to the Capital Wasteland
The previous film, Resident Evil: Retribution ended with Alice having her superpowers restored and allying with former enemy and video game villain Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Wesker needing Alice’s aid to combat The Red Queen, an Umbrella Artificial Intelligence and primary antagonist from the first movie, who now wants to eliminate humanity for some reason.
As is now standard for the series, the set up from the previous movie is tossed out immediately as Alice awakes in a devastated White House having been betrayed by Wesker. Approached by the Red Queen, she’s informed that she only has 48 hours to save the 4,472 people left alive on the planet, that number not including the numerous Umbrella employees Alice will dispatch along her way.
What follows is a mess of unclear action, scenery chewing, unmemorable characters and maddening plotting as Alice heads back to Raccoon City and The Hive from the first film, in search of a cure for the T-virus and an end to Umbrella once and for all.
The biggest criticism to that can be leveled at Resident Evil The Final Chapter is one that Umbrella executives might very well level at Alice herself; one of wasted potential. As the final chapter (it isn’t really, more on this later) Anderson had the opportunity to take characters and monsters from the various films and games and remix them into a greatest hits package for fans. Instead, he decided to tell a very generic, post-apocalyptic tale. Some of the iconic Zombie dogs turn up at one point, but they don’t do much and the sequence is not a patch on the Alice vs. zombie dogs sequence from the first film from fifteen years ago.
Blast from the past
The whole film seems like a step backwards with nothing coming even partially close to the pacing, tension, action and most importantly clarity of that scene or any of the other fun standouts from the series.
Something resembling a Licker appears later in the film but the camera is so close to the action and edited so quickly, that it’s impossible to make out the creature in any detail, and the action becomes hard to follow.
With the video game supporting cast from the previous film (including Jill Valentine, Leon S Kennedy, and Ada Wong) nowhere to be seen, the role of game cameo once more falls to Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield, last seen in Resident Evil: Afterlife. Not that it matters, her minimal role could be anyone, from the games or not. The rest of the heroic survivors/collateral damage are utterly forgettable, some of them not even getting names before meeting their end.
You will not care about ANY of these people
As usual, Jovovich ably carries the plot, as it is, but there’s just not enough for her to do this time. Shawn Robert’s over the top Wesker is equally wasted, reduced from his former headlining role to an Umbrella henchman.Also returning is Iain Glenn’s Dr. Isaacs, who chews on the scenery even more than the zombies chew on the unmemorable supporting cast. Glen obviously relishes his villainous role, lacing every line with pantomime menace, and is one of the unintentional high points (unintentional) of the film.
The plot is a muddled mess with Alice’s race against the clock rendered utterly meaningless as she wastes all but 36 minutes traveling, unconscious or helping defend people who wouldn’t need defending if she just went and got the T-virus cure already!
The film doesn’t even have the courage of its convictions, leaving the door wide open to further sequels, despite the title. It’s an unearned cheat, that totally undercuts any point there may have been to this below par movie.
While it never set the cinematic world on fire, the Resident Evil franchise churned out some fun, zombie/action hybrid B-movies. It’s a pity that Anderson, the writer of all the movies and director of four of the six, couldn’t bring any of that fun or style to the series as it comes to a (possible) end.
Starring: Milla Jovovoch, Ali Larter, Iain Glenn, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Official Site here.