Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, 2016.
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
Starring Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, Ruby Rose, William Levy, and Ever Anderson.
In the supposed final instalment of the video game-based movie franchise, Alice returns to The Hive in Raccoon City to face off against Umbrella Corp. in a bid to save humanity… or something like that.
Out of all the modern (i.e. 21st century) horror movie franchises to have made millions of dollars at the box office the Resident Evil series is arguably the most debated amongst audiences. On the one hand the franchise does offer up the kind of visceral thrills that wiping out hordes of zombies in a video game setting provides, with a seemingly infinite number of undead corpses splattering up against the screen as our heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) uses every weapon at her disposal and never seems to run out of bullets. On the other hand, that is pretty much all the movies have to offer as each instalment becomes more and more about the visual spectacle rather than anything approaching a cohesive story, and on that level at least Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is consistent.
And when I say ‘cohesive story’ I realise that this franchise is hardly meant to be The Godfather when it comes to storytelling but somewhere after the second Resident Evil movie writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson decided to forget continuity and just seemed to throw masses of mutants, villains and a rotating band of ragtag heroes against the proverbial wall and hoped that some of it stuck but no matter if it didn’t because he’d make some more up anyway. And so by the time we get to this sixth instalment in the series we can vaguely grasp at what went before as hardly any of it is referenced and any questions you may have had about previous outings and what happened to certain characters almost certainly won’t be answered here; in fact, even the recap of events that Alice narrates at the beginning of the film is new footage made for this chapter and doesn’t really relate to anything we’ve seen so far, giving us the history on why series McGuffin the T-Virus was made and how it fell into the hands of the sinister Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) before throwing a few images from the previous five movies at the screen in the hope that’ll do to bring you up to speed. To be honest, these scenes detailing the history of the virus and how Dr. Isaacs and his partner Dr. Marcus came to disagree on what should be done with it are the most interesting in the whole movie and could have set the scene for something a little more thoughtful in a crime thriller style had Anderson had the inclination to do so.
But he didn’t and instead we get 100-odd minutes of Milla Jovovich riding from city to city and getting severely beaten around the head without ever seeming to slow down before she reaches Raccoon City and things go a little bit Lord of the Rings-meets-Transformers as wave upon wave of CGI zombies charge into the city and give the ever-resourceful Alice and her fellow survivors the chance to go mad with the CGI fire and everything is either blown up, shot or stabbed but with very little pay off as it all becomes one big blur of CGI violence. Admittedly it does look pretty good for the most part but still – you know there’s nothing actually there for most of it.
However, once the merry men and women move down into The Hive to try and stop Isaacs and his powerful henchman Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) the film goes completely bonkers and, for some strange reason, becomes a lot more tolerable for the final act. In a bizarre mix of the silliest James Bond movies (i.e. the ones with a megalomaniac villain hiding in a volcano/underwater/in space), the Saw franchise and even borrowing heavily from at least two major sci-fi movies – well, less borrowing and more like blatantly stealing, and from Robocop and Terminator 2 no less – it would seem like Paul W.S. Anderson just decided to ramp everything up to 11 to see if you’re still paying attention. And, funnily enough, he sort of gets away with it as for the final 20 minutes or so he manages to get the mix of explosive action and a dumb-but-functional script just right, or at least Iain Glen manages to interpret said script in such a fashion that it fits the bombastic nature of the fight scenes. Either way, it works and for a few minutes we get the entertainment that should have been the focus of this movie from the start, especially considering the mess that preceded it in Resident Evil: Retribution, a film that really was like watching somebody else play a video game and about as satisfying.
So overall, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is as empty and vacuous as you would expect it to be, with only a mad finale and a scenery-chewing Iain Glen saving it from being a total disaster. If you’ve followed the series to this point then you should watch it, mainly for the sake of completion but also because you really don’t want Resident Evil: Retribution to be the lasting memory of this franchise which, for some reason, is already getting a reboot. Makes you wonder that if they had more ideas for the series then why not use them here instead of churning out another piece of disposable nonsense that is bound to wind up the fanboys and go over the heads of nearly everybody else just wanting to be entertained by competent filmmaking for a couple of hours but that’s the movie business for you, and Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is nothing if not business as usual from Paul W.S. Anderson.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ / Movie: ★ ★