Resident Evil: The Final Chaper
February 10, 2017
Filed under Opinion
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Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is exactly the type of movie you’d expect. It’s loud, stupid, aggressively cut, and feels like one long quick-time-event from a video game. In other words, it’s B-movie brilliance.
Set in the not-so-distant future, The Final Chapter picks up where five prior Resident Evil films left off, the most recent one being 2012’s critically maligned Resident Evil: Retribution. The whole thing is loosely based off of the hit video game series of the same name, but from the very first movie, Director Paul W.S. Anderson has created his own vision for the series. The bad guys are still the evil Umbrella Corporation, the “zombies” roaming the earth were created by some sort of virus, and occasionally big characters from the games such as Claire Redfield and Albert Wesker show up in some form, but there isn’t a whole lot of meaningful overlap. The movies concern themselves with the story of Alice (played coolly and confidently by series veteran Milla Jovovich) vs. the Umbrella Corps; specifically Umbrella Corps’s co-owner, Dr. Alexander Isaacs, who supposedly died in a prior installment, Resident Evil: Extinction. The whole thing is very convoluted and messy, and a lot of series fans are incredibly devoted to it. It doesn’t make much sense, but honestly, that’s part of the fun.
The film starts off with an explanation of Alice’s reasons for her vendetta against the Umbrella Corps: Her dad used to be a scientist for it, his partner, Dr. Isaacs, kills him, and their supposed universal cure for diseases, the T-Virus, just turns everyone into a zombie. It provides some background to the series, and outside of a few unexplained characters from past installments who show up later in the movie, it’s pretty easy to understand. Post-exposition, Alice awakens to a transmission from the artificial intelligence who runs much of the Umbrella Corps, The Red Queen, who is based off of a childhood image of Alice. The Red Queen informs Alice that in 48 hours, every living, uninfected human on earth will die, leaving only zombies, unless Alice goes to the underground headquarters of Umbrella and steals an antidote, which, if released, would kill every zombie left on earth, and save the remaining humans. Alice is wary to trust The Red Queen, but she does anyway; what does she have to lose? From here on, it’s your typical “Race Against Time” to save the world.
The plot details may seem necessary to understand the movie, but for most of the runtime, it serves as nothing but a thin excuse to put Alice in ridiculous, over-the-top action movie scenarios. The audience is greeted to the first one of these merely 10 minutes into the movie, in which Alice, stationed in a humvee, plays a deadly game of chicken with a grotesque, scorpion-esque monster (that flies). It concludes with Alice blowing up both the humvee and the monster with a claymore (an explosion that she inexplicably survives–two feet away from the car).
Set-pieces serve as the lifeblood for a movie like this– if you’re not going to see a bunch of big stuff blow up in an imaginative way, why even see it? Luckily, The Final Chapter delivers– mostly. It takes clear inspiration from 2015’s brilliant (and much better) Mad Max: Fury Road in one vehicle based fight sequence, in which Alice squares off with various Umbrella goons on top of a heavily armored tank, followed by what looks like thousands upon thousands of zombies, but keeps it fresh enough to not feel like a pointless retread. The performances of the actors are perfectly fit for this movie: in other words, hopelessly cliched and relatively lifeless. Some might view this as a sticking point for criticism, but personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Why get wrapped up in pointless character development when one can enjoy a ludicrous story and even more ludicrous action sequences? All of these set-pieces build perfectly into Alice’s final confrontation with Dr. Isaacs, which holds more narrative weight than one might expect, judging from the devil-may-care fashion the story is treated with up to that point.
The supposed conclusion to the Resident Evil franchise is utterly predictable, unintentionally hilarious, and visually wild. Devoid of almost any contemporary artistic value (besides what is arguably the greatest American art: blowing things up), it somehow manages to be a wonderfully empty good time. But who wouldn’t expect its many flaws– it’s a Resident Evil movie.
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Runtime: 106 minutes
Release: January 27, 2017
Rating: R for sequences of violence throughout