In my review for Assassin’s Creed, I lamented the fact that video game movies were never particularly good. The first Resident Evil movie, released all the way back in 2002, was perhaps the exception to the rule. Since then, the series has been a guilty pleasure for many, and has now reached its seventh film (and presumably, the last one, if the title is to be honoured). Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a fitting end to the series – it pretty much encapsulates all the good and the bad you normally find. You know exactly what you’re going to get, and you know exactly whether you’re going to enjoy it or not before you even sit down.
The T-virus, unleashed by the evil Umbrella Corporation, has spread to every corner of the globe, infesting the planet with zombies, demons and monsters, who have nearly succeeded in wiping out humanity. Alice (Milla Jovovich), a former Umbrella employee turned rogue warrior, learns that there may be a chance of salvation, but it requires her returning to Raccoon City – with the help of fellow survivors, including Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), she embarks on a last-chance mission to storm the company’s headquarters deep underneath the city. However, the Red Queen knows that Alice is coming, and she and the villainous Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) are determined to stop her and ensure the end of humanity.
Although the video game series is full of strong characters, the highlight of the film series has always been Jovovich’s Alice. She has evolved through the series, and she always makes for a watchable lead, powering her way through these films. This time round, she even gets a bit to do in the emotional stakes, and is just as competent there. She’s clearly having a blast making these films, and they wouldn’t be half as fun as they are without her.
It’s only really the familiar characters who boast any kind of development, although we do also get some loosely sketched newbies joining the ranks (they have basic character types – the action girl, for example – but the sign that’s really floating above their head is ‘cannon fodder’). Larter’s Redfern doesn’t get much to do – a far better returnee is Glen’s Dr. Isaacs, who really gets to ham it up this time as his masterplan comes close to fruition. He makes for a nicely terrifying bad guy – a perfect fit for this type of movie.
There are attempts at story here and, as it goes, it does a decent enough job at trying to wrap up the loose ends, finishing the story on enough of a sense of finality to feel satisfied. Sure, there’s a lot of holes in the plot, but you’re not coming to this for Shakespearean prose – you’re in it for the action and the zombies. It makes it much of a shame that a lot of the action is very difficult to follow – the editing is so rapid (far more rapid than in any of the previous films) in some of the action sequences that it is practically headache-inducing to try and follow.
With Mad Max and now this in the air, you’d get the feeling that the apocalypse was making a comeback. Director Anderson clearly has a love for the sci-fi dystopia genre, and he has successfully created a desolate world which, despite its familiarity, still manages to boast creatures and set pieces that surprise.
I’m not making any claims that the Resident Evil are great pieces of art, nor will they ever rank near the top of any ‘best film’ lists. However, I appreciate them for what they are – schlocky, action-filled and fun. The Final Chapter is a fitting end for the series, in that it sums up the good and the bad of the films before it and, if it really actually is the end, I’m going to miss these films.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich (Alice), Iain Glen (Dr. Isaacs), Ali Larter (Claire Redfield), Shawn Roberts (Wesker), Ruby Rose (Abigail), William Levy (Christian)
Running Time: 106 Mins