The Resident Evil film series allegedly comes to a close this month with the release of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. It’s a series that has had more deaths, resurrections and character reversals than an X-Men comic, so it’s understandable if you got lost along the way. To help you catch up with what’s been going on with Milla Jovovich’s Alice over the last 5 movies, here’s our guide to the story so far…
Similar to the recent Assassin’s Creed, 2002’s Resident Evil took elements from the video game series, avoiding the most well-known characters, and threw them in a blender with budding action star Milla Jovovich plus some memorable action scenes and monsters. The result, from writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson, was a fun B-movie that managed to satisfy both video game and action movie fans, for the most part.
Resident Evil introduced the world to the amnesiac ass-kicker Alice (Jovovich), who found herself in the middle of a zombie outbreak at a hidden research lab known as “The Hive”. Owned by the shadowy Umbrella Corporation, the lab had been placed on lockdown and all of its inhabitants killed by its governing AI, The Red Queen, after an unknown thief attempted to steal the deadly “T-Virus”.
Teaming up with fellow amnesia victim Pence (James Purefoy), investigator Matt Addison (Eric Mabius) and an Umbrella Corp “sanitation team”, Alice had first breaks into The Hive to find out what’s going on, before racing to break out of the facility, before the Red Queen seals them all in again. On the way she had to deal with the now zombified umbrella staff, zombie dogs, mutated “Licker” monsters, shifting loyalties amidst the team and deadly traps sprung by The Red Queen.
The first film featured some memorable action elements, like Alice’s increasingly impressive action chops and the deadly laser grids that turn up repeatedly in the later films. Also notable was Michelle Rodriguez’s Rain Ocampa, (who, despite dying would return later) and plenty of nods to the games.
It also established the series love of pulling the rug out from under the audience in the closing moments of each film. With only Alice and Matt escaping the Hive in the film’s climax, their happy ending is stolen when they are captured by Umbrella scientists.
Matt, having been attacked by a Licker earlier, was denied the quick injection that would stave off T-Virus infection and dragged off to the ominous sounding “Nemesis Program”, while Alice was knocked out.
She awakens much later in Raccoon City, a key location from the games, to find it devastated after the T-Virus outbreak in the city.
Escape From Raccoon City
Alice returned in 2004 in Resident Evil: Apocalypse which strengthened the ties with the video games, as it fit in nicely with the story of Resident Evil 3:Nemesis. Having been experimented on with the T-Virus between movies by Dr. Sam Isaacs (Game Of Thrones’ Iain Glenn), Alice starts to develop enhanced agility and strength while trying to escape a walled off and zombie-infested Raccoon City.
Amongst the disposable zombie fodder that Alice allies with were the cop Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) and former Umbrella commando Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), both playable characters from RE3:Nemesis as well some members of the Raccoon City Special Tactics And Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.), another mainstay of the video games.
In a nice nod to the games, Guillory’s costume was incredibly faithful to Jill’s in RE3.
Just Another Brick in the Wall
With the city walled off and Umbrella planning to cover its tracks by setting off a nuclear bomb in the city, the gang’s only option for escape is to find and rescue the daughter of an Umbrella researcher, with a helicopter standing by for her extraction. Along with the usual hordes of zombified people, dogs and children in their way, Alice and her companions also had to deal with Umbrella’s latest hulking bio-organic weapon (B.O.W): The Nemesis.
While Jill, Carlos Alice and Angela, the researcher’s daughter, did indeed make it to the chopper, the Nemesis stood between them and escape. Impervious to most of Alice’s attacks, she only managed to overcome the monstrosity once she realised the Nemesis was Matt from the previous film, horribly mutated and under Umbrella’s mind control.
The End.. or is it?
After freeing him from Umbrella control Matt helps them flee the city before dying, only for the helicopter to crash from the blast wave from Umbrella’s nuke. Shockingly, Alice appeared to die saving Angela after the crash however, the shock of her death was very short lived.
Reinforcing the feeling that writer Anderson simply makes this up as he’s going along, the movie ended with Alice reappearing, alive and well at Umbrella before being rescued from Isaacs by Carlos, Jill and Angela.
Never one to end a movie with just one dumb twist however, the film ends with a close-up of Alice’s eye, as Dr. Isaacs activates “Program Alice” and the Umbrella logo flashes across her pupil.
Desert Bus for Hope
This set up from the previous movie was almost completely ignored at the beginning of Resident Evil: Extinction (2007), but it does start with one of the best fake-outs in the series when Alice is unceremoniously killed while trying to flee a mansion similar to that from the first movie. As her body is disposed of in a pit with what looks like
As her body is disposed of in a pit with what looks like hundreds of other Alices, it’s revealed that Dr. Isaacs has been experimenting with Alice clones, with the original having escaped. Extinction abandoned the series relatively “real world” (or close enough) setting and took place instead in a Mad Max style desert environment where the T-Virus had spread across the globe, decimating the population and the ecosystem.
The original Alice, free of her umbrella programming and roaming the wilderness that is now the continental USA, runs into a convoy that includes Carlos (from the previous film) and Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), sister to player character Chris Redfield from the first RE game and a player protagonist in her own right in RE2 and RE:Code Veronica.
Deciding to head for a rumoured safe haven in Alaska, the convoy plans to stop off first in the ruins of Las Vegas to resupply, before an attack by Dr. Isaac’s “super zombies” puts an end to that plan, as well as most of the members of the convoy.
Having finally had enough with Dr. Isaac, Alice hunts him down to his Umbrella base, losing Carlos along the way after he sacrifices himself to clear a path through the zombie horde.
Unknown to Alice, Isaac has mutated into what the games call a Tyrant, after being infected with a mutated form of the T-Virus from a super-zombie and turns on his own staff. After a pitched battle Alice managed to defeat him with help of a laser grid from the first movie, but just as she is about to get sliced and diced by the grid herself, one of her clones saves her.
Extinction ends with Alice and an army of clones threatening well-known video game villain Albert Wesker, (in the form of Agent of Shield‘s current director Jason O’Mara), setting up a much tighter integration with the world of the games for future films.
An Army of Me
With Dr. Isaacs out of the way, Alice and her army of clones take on the rest of the Umbrella Corporation in Resident Evil: Afterlife, which quickly disposes of the budget bothering army of Milla Jovovich clones in an attack on the Japanese HQ. Similarly, Alice’s superpowers, which had rapidly become an easy way out of any situation, were quickly stripped away when she confronted Wesker, now played by Shawn Roberts, looking like a refugee from the Matrix movies.
The rest of the movie played out like a compacted version of the third season of The Walking Dead, with Alice, and the latest crop of zombie bait holing up in a prison after trying to find an uninfected area called Arcadia.
Despite the series haphazard approach to continuity, Afterlife did bring back Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield as an ally, once she’d been rid of a mind controlling scarab-like device. Claire was later joined by her brother Chris Redfield (Wentworth Miller), who was a playable character in the very first Resident Evil.
“You’ve really become quite an inconvenience for me”
As has rapidly become a Resident Evil cliché, anyone who isn’t a new character, Alice or is from the video games was killed off and Alice, Claire and Chris faced off against a now mutated Wesker, in what has to be one of the most ludicrous action scenes in a series hardly known for its realism.
With Wesker subdued, Alice and company plan on turning the Arcadia, a former oil tanker and Wesker’s base, into a true refuge.
That plan lasts all of 30 seconds, as the film ends with Jill Valentine, AWOL since the second film and now under the influence of a mind controlling scarab device, leading an Umbrella assault on the Afterlife.
Attack of the Clones
In what we now know is the penultimate entry in the series; 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution, the battle from the previous movie is quickly skipped over with Alice taken captive by Umbrella once more (and most of the rest of the cast ditched) and taken to yet another Umbrella facility in Russia. This time Alice has to escape through a series of simulations created by Umbrella, including recreations of Moscow, Tokyo, New York and Raccoon City, with many containing clones of Alice, the members of the sanitation team from the first movie, (including both “good” and “bad” versions of Michelle Rodriguez’s Rain Ocampa), and Carlos Olivera.
Luckily Alice has help in the form of a task force sent by Wesker. Among this team are Ada Wong, Wesker’s agent from RE2 and RE4, Leon S. Kennedy hero from the very popular Resident Evil 4 as well as from Resident Evil 2 and Barry Burton, holder of the world record for one of the worst lines of videogame dialog ever from the first game.
“Have you got a suit?Then suit up.”
Having suffered one of his many flip-flops Wesker is now allied with Alice and wants her help defeating The Red Queen, the AI having decided to wipe out humanity for some reason. Hobbled with awful boots and a catsuit that has WAY more buckles than necessary, Alice fights her way to freedom battling crowds of zombies including the Las Plagas variant from Resident Evil 4.
After rescuing a daughter of an Alice clone, defeating “Evil” Michelle Rodriguez and freeing Jill from her mind controlling device, Alice’s superpowers are returned to her by Wesker, who tells her he’ll need the “old” Alice for what is to come; the final battle for mankind. The film ends with Wesker’s heavily fortified White House under attack on all side by a host of zombies, flying Kipepeo and other mutated Umbrella creatures.
The Final Chapter
So what can we expect from the final chapter? Well, judging by the trailer the battle from the previous film will be skipped over and the scale of the film reduced to Alice and some survivors returning to The Hive. Ali Larter is set to make a reappearance as Claire Redfield, as is Shawn Roberts as Wesker, apparently having switched sides yet again. Most surprising is the supposed return of Iain Glenn’s Dr. Isaacs seeing, as he was assumed to have been finished off in Resident Evil: Extinction.
All we can really be sure of is some decent B-movie zombie action and Milla Jovovich kicking ass.
It remains to be seen if Paul W.S Anderson can restrain his habit of cliff-hanger endings and finally finish off this zombie franchise for good.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is released in cinemas on the 19th January