Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter and Shawn Roberts
Release Date: Out Now
Whenever the topic of video game films is brought up, you can’t help but mention Super Mario Bros, Mortal Kombat, or the Resident Evil franchise. From a critical standpoint, the first two are generally seen as the lowest and highest points of the medium, respectively.
But with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter now being the sixth installment in the franchise, it stands head and shoulders above all others as the most commercially successful film(s) based on video games ever made.
That’s no doubt owed to both Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich who, despite continued poor criticism, have stuck with this franchise for the past 15+ years. Jovovich has portrayed her character, Alice, for nearly the same amount of time that Hugh Jackman has portrayed Wolverine.
How fitting that both are coming to a close this year…
Nor can you take anything away from Paul W.S. Anderson, who just can’t seem to ever leave Raccoon City alone. Clearly a lover of video games, he also directed Mortal Kombat in 1995, which openly expresses his love for the medium.
All that being said though, The Final Chapter isn’t a good film. Just as a zombie can take several headshots to kill, there’s always the worry that Anderson might try to give us one more scare with this franchise.
And we’re looking down on it with our finger on the trigger.
We open with a flashback sequence involving Dr. James Marcus, the original founder of the Umbrella Corporation. It is revealed that he had a daughter who was dying of a disease that caused premature aging. This leads to Marcus developing the T-Virus as a potential cure, which his partner Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Glen) suggests they use for military purposes.
The ensuing argument ends badly for Marcus, leaving his daughter and the Umbrella corporation in Isaacs care. In order to keep control of the company and maintain it, Isaacs builds a computer program called The Red Queen. Modelled off of Marcus’ daughter as a sort of High level security system, long time fans will remember her from the first film as what could be defined as the main antagonist for the entire series.
Cut to present day wasteland, where we join Alice (Jovovich) as she awakens in a ruined White House in an unintentional but nonetheless poignant reflection of current events. After being betrayed by Wesker at the end of the last film, she has now been stripped of her powers and reduced to a run-of-the-mill badass, instead of the super-powered badass she had previously become.
While searching for survivors, The Red Queen appears and informs Alice of an antivirus in Raccoon City, which could save all of mankind. The catch? She has only 48 hours to find and release it. Why? Because of reasons, it’s not important.
What follows is an onslaught of cameos from previous films, with familiar faces popping in and out in a massive all-or-nothing war to reach the antivirus first. Fan favourite Claire Redfield (Larter) leads the war against generically evil bastard Isaacs while Alice tries to save the world…again.
Everything that happens in The Final Chapter is overly complicated yet remarkably dull and predictable. The dedication to awful clichés is staggering. Time is running out, the love interest is made of cardboard, the tough guy in the group doesn’t trust the newbie, people switch sides and a lot of people get eaten.
The sound editing is also noticeably choppy, partnered with woefully bad camera cuts. This is most apparent during fight scenes where everything is so nonsensical and blurry that there is little, if any, enjoyment to be gained from it.
Dragging this burning ship down further is a rather poor script laced with a wealth of cheesy dialogue. Criminally, it doesn’t even have the saving grace of being laughably cheesy. This is the same franchise that gave us the phrase “You were almost a Jill sandwich!” Yet none of the lines proffered here are made memorable.
To their credit, some of the cast add a bit of life, especially Jovovich. The ship may be sinking, but she seems proud to be going down with it.
Differentiating this franchises’ sequels is an arduous task. For what it’s worth however, this is marginally better than the preceding films, if only for the sense of finality.
Written by Graeme Redmond