Ha! “Final Chapter” my ass.
Alright, so here goes. The Resident Evil movies are based on the hit video game franchise of the same name. While I could probably go on and on about that, this is about the movies. Having said that, I feel like it’s best to talk a little about the games. Resident Evil was a survival horror classic back in 1996. While the game wasn’t taken nearly as seriously as it is today and had some camp to it, it was still a game that delivered on some great and iconic scares. It’s sequels would prove to be the better outings, providing great and creatively disturbing enemies, memorable and bad-ass characters, and all around became gaming sensations. What you should take away from this is that Resident Evil the most of the games were survival horror. The films on the other hand…
Now I won’t lie, back in 2002, when RESIDENT EVIL (2002) came out, I wanted to see it. At the time, I hadn’t been too familiar with the games. It looked like it’d be a cool zombie film. I saw it and I loved it. Mind you, I was thirteen years old, so I didn’t have the same taste in films that I do now. This movie put Milla Jovovich on the map for me and most audiences out there. But the more of the games I played, the more I realized what a creative wasteland the films really were. The games were loaded with tons of mutated monsters that left you with nightmares. Granted, the licker was an awesome addition to the movies, but the franchise practically uses those things as a crutch for not utilizing the other many monsters that Resident Evil was known for. For reasons due to budget or stupidity, who can say? The Nemesis was a good guy in APOCALYPSE (2004), the tyrant wasn’t nearly as intimidating or scary as it should have been in EXTINCTION (2007), the clones were unceremoniously killed off in AFTERLIFE (2010), RETRIBUTION (2012) was the worst of them and fell into the same stupidity that UNDERWORLD: AWAKENING (2012) did by thinking that having a big-ass version of their iconic monster would be enough to be fresh, and now… this. In fact, the best thing about the Resident Evil films is their marketing. I love their trailers. They’re so much fun and so creative.
While the franchise should be respected for being as successful as they have been, going strong fifteen years now. Few video game adaptations ever even get a sequel (Uwe Boll’s movies don’t count), so it’s hard to deny the impact the movies made. However, the ultimate downside is that they’re just not Resident Evil. They’re zombie action movies that carry the Resident Evil title. There’s no sense of urgency or danger, so they’re not survival-horror, the characters are stock, and the trademark characters don’t have the personalities of their video game counterparts, it’s just a complete mess. They’re entertaining messes, that can’t be denied, I will always have fond memories of making fun of them and enjoying their over-the-top nature, but should the franchise end, I’d be grateful and wouldn’t miss it. Maybe it’ll pave the way for a more faithful adaptation in the future. A little Peruvian boy can dream, can’t he?
Let’s take a look at this cast. Obviously, Jovovich (ZOOLANDER 2 , THE THREE MUSKETEERS , and THE FIFTH ELEMENT ) returns as Alice. I’ve never had a problem with Jovovich as an actress. I think she’s fine for the roles that she takes and even the few dramatic roles under her belt are well-executed. I mean, she’s no Sigourney Weaver, but she’s perfectly serviceable. If she’s in a movie, I’m usually interested. Fellow Resident Evil alum, Ali Larter (OBSESSED , LEGALLY BLONDE , and TV show HEROES) also returns as Claire Redfield, probably the only other truly awesome element to these dumb movies. If I thought well of Jovovich, I think even more of Larter. I think she’s one of those actresses that is a recognized face, but for whatever reason, despite her beauty and talent, she’s not more famous and on demand, which is a shame to me. And surprising return to the franchise is Iain Glen (RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE and EXTINCTION, and TV show GAME OF THRONES). My guess, his character is another clone. Bad screenwriting will probably call him a twin. Finally, new to the franchise is Ruby Rose (XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE  and TV show ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK). Should be interesting.
Now for behind the scenes. Directing for the fourth time this franchise (he didn’t direct APOCALYPSE or EXTINCTION), and writing for the sixth for this last ride is Paul W.S. Anderson, known for POMPEII (2014), AVP: ALIEN VS. PREDATOR (2004), and MORTAL KOMBAT (1999). Composing the music is Paul Haslinger, known for most of the Underworld films with the exceptions of EVOLUTION (2006) and BLOOD WARS (2017), CRANK (2006), and SHOOT ‘EM UP (2007). Finally, the cinematographer is Glen MacPherson, known for POMPEII (2014), the last two Resident Evil films, and RAMBO (2008).
Overall, I guess I’m a little excited to see this movie… but maybe just so the franchise can officially end. I’m expecting some over-the-top action, a bad script, but an all around stupid-fun movie.
This is my honest opinion of: RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER
Alice (Milla Jovovich) has narrowly survived after being betrayed by Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Taking shelter in a building, she’s contacted by an old adversary: the Red Queen (Ever Anderson). The Red Queen wants to end the infection of the T-Virus by informing Alice that Umbrella developed an airborne anti-virus that will kill everything that’s infected, including Alice. Despite her lack of trust in the computer, she agrees to help by returning to Raccoon City, specifically The Hive, where the anti-virus is being kept. Along the way, she is met with another old adversary, Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), and an old friend, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and her team to combat the undead and Umbrella.
Yeah, it’s about what you’d expect to see… and maybe less.
So something to take note, and this isn’t spoiling anything, you never learn the ultimate fate of Angie Ashford, Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, K-Mart, or any of the surviving cast of RETRIBUTION. They don’t even get a reference.
So here we go, yes, above all else, the movie is action-packed and pretty entertaining. I never found myself bored, so anyone can take comfort in knowing that. Miraculously, there’s not a single licker to be found, and for that, I’m grateful. Milla Jovovich and Ali Larter continue to kick ass, and Glen is gleefully over-the-top and ridiculous.
But that’s about the only thing you can say about the movie.
First of all, continuity is thrown out the window almost as soon as the movie starts from the last one. In the final minutes of RETRIBUTION, Wesker forces Alice to get her powers back and stands with her and the other survivors against an army of undead and B.O.W’s. But most outlets are saying that this movie takes place immediately after RETRIBUTION. So then in the span of what we the audience can only assume to be the next morning, the hordes of zombies is gone and only one B.O.W. is left, and only Alice is alive… with no powers. All we’re told is that Wesker betrayed her and “pretended” to give her powers back. Um… why? What did that accomplish? And how did he betray her? None of this explained. By the way, I usually try to be passive-aggressive when saying someone is a bad writer, but I’m just going to come out and say it; Anderson is a terrible writer. It’s like the guy has no passion for the very movies that he’s writing. He can’t bridge events worth a damn, he doesn’t develop a single character, even Alice (Seriously, from her humble beginnings in the original, do you really get the sense that she’s a different person?), and is wishy-washy on other elements of his stories (Does Alice have powers, does she not have powers.).
It’s like he has his ideas, but doesn’t care to put them into a cohesive narrative. And I know what most of you are thinking. “It’s a dumb zombie-action movie, it’s not meant to be taken that seriously” and sure, I get that and in retrospect, I don’t. But I suppose I’m getting sick of sub-par video game adaptations and would love to see this genre evolve and Anderson’s take doesn’t look like he cares to progress. Fine if that’s your thing, and once upon a time it was mine, but not so much anymore. If mindless entertainment is all that I wanted, I could watch THE EXPENDABLES (2010). I prefer my video game adaptations taken a little more seriously. Movies like this ground the genre to a halt or set it back.
Ugh, sorry about the rant. I’ll try to keep it more focused.
Aside from Alice getting no development, have a bunch of characters that are completely useless. You also have this one character that highly distrusts Alice when they meet and keeps mentioning how they’re all going to regret letting her into their camp. He has no reason to hate her this passionately. Plus, he dies later on pretty unceremoniously. You don’t remember his name. Hell, the predictability of who is going to get axed off is almost embarrassingly predictable.
Wesker. God damn, Wesker was about the coolest villain the movies offered from the games and more or less got the man’s sliminess and calculated awesomeness down. I enjoyed Robert’s portrayal of the man, but… shit, what a wasted character in this movie. I mean, what does he really do in this? He sits on his ass and barks orders at a computer hologram in the form of a nine-year-old girl. He doesn’t throw his glasses at anyone, he doesn’t use his own super-speed or strength, none of that. Most useless villain.
Also, Rose got horribly jipped in this. For an actress whose career is skyrocketing into the stratosphere, this role should have been her first film outing. Having been in both XXX: RETURN OF XANDER CAGE and being a highly talked-about character in ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK, this role was atrociously limited for someone of her caliber. Hell, I don’t even recall her character’s name getting mentioned.
So… is there anything that I can say made me happy about this? Well, I already mentioned that I do like Jovovich and Larter. I can appreciate some diverse use of B.O.W’s. You have RESIDENT EVIL 5’s popokarimu, kinda. Still looks a bit off from the video game version, but it’s freaky lookin’, so I’ll take it. There’s also this creature that Alice fights within the Hive that is vaguely similar to an Iron Maiden from Resident Evil 4, though it is significantly faster in nature and has eyes, but is by far one of the freakiest monsters to come out of the films. The action scenes are pretty cool and occasionally lend to some awesome visuals, from a zombie army to a waterfall of fire.
Even as far as a “final chapter” is concerned, this could have been a lot better and could have been a lot more awesome. Instead, we get no answers to some pretty big questions regarding previously introduced characters, plot-holes, tons of scenes that end up going nowhere or serve no purpose other than having an action scene, and characters that serve no purpose other than to die or be useless, or both. But I can’t deny that I enjoy Jovovich, Larter, and Glen, and despite how pointless some of those actions scenes could be, it’s hard not to be entertained by them. But on the whole, this wasn’t a very good movie and a disappointing end to a franchise that probably should have ended long ago. But if it’s ending now, then… probably good riddance. I will continue to look forward to Jovovich and Larter’s future endeavors, but I think Anderson should take a step away from adapting any more beloved video games. If you’re a fan of the franchise, I still don’t really recommend it, but if you’re anything like me, and you’ve invested so much time into these films, then you’re probably going to see it anyway no matter who says what. The best recommendation I can offer you folks is to keep your expectations way low.
My honest rating for RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER: a weak 3/5