DIR/WRI: Paul W.S. Anderson • PRO: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Samuel Hadida, Robert Kulzer • DOP: Glen MacPherson • ED: Doobie White • DES: Edward Thomas • MUS: Paul Haslinger • CAST: Ruby Rose, Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter
I think it’s fair to say that even the biggest fan of the Resident Evil franchise would have trouble distinguishing the movies apart. Aside from the third entry in the series, Extinction (which was directed by Highlander’s Russell Mulcahy and therefore looks far better than the rest), each one is pretty much the exact same film. Milla Jovovich’s mysterious ass-kicker teams up with a rag-tag group of zombie fodder to fight hordes of increasingly disgusting monsters.
As more sequels emerged, the franchise’s mythology grew increasingly convoluted – tales of clones, telekinesis and corporate intrigue were introduced. However, the plot was never what held one’s attention. Viewers seek out these movies to see a cool heroine dispatch with zombies in extremely gory fashion. The series has never been high-art but up until now it’s been passably entertaining.
What is particularly disappointing about sixth entry Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is that it fails even this already low-bar. Despite directing the original Resident Evil as well as some of the later movies, Paul W.S. Anderson (who made the great Event Horizon) just phones it in. None of the action is particularly memorable, being noticeably cut faster and more kinetically than any of the previous films – leaving it feeling excruciatingly tough to follow. He also seems to think that because he is making something based on a videogame that he must transition from scene to scene with visual and aural static glitches. Its ugly and headache inducing.
Speaking of “tough to follow”, there is also the plot which has gotten so convoluted that The Final Chapter begins with a ten-minute expository dump recapping all the major events of the first five films. Not even this makes anything which occurs comprehensible as the viewer is left shaking their head at the ridiculous nature of twists – most one will see coming a mile away – and by how none of it makes any sense even for the Resident Evil world. For instance, if Iain Glen’s villain – who released the virus which left only 4,000 humans on Earth, why won’t he kill the old and frail co-owner of his company – the one person who can truly foil his plan? He killed her father/his former business partner for the same reason. Even worse, why did he make many many clones of her? The movie is riddled with distracting plot holes such as this.
Even the supporting cast – which in the past had solid character actors like Jared Harris, Sienna Guillory, Michelle Rodriguez, Wentworth Miller – is lacking here. Iain Glen looks like he is having fun but everyone else either is bland or is playing bland characters. An example of this is Ruby Rose (a highlight of the surprisingly fun XXX: Return of Xander Cage), somebody who is talented and looks the part as a tough heroine yet is given absolutely zero to do.
It’s a shame that the series will probably bow out after its weakest picture. The best I can advise fans of the franchise who were giving serious consideration into seeing this is to watch the reverse action scene from the opening of Resident Evil: Retribution or the moment with the coin gun in Afterlife. Both are on Youtube and are quicker, funnier and look better than anything in The Final Chapter.
15A (See IFCO for details)
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is released 3rd February 2017