WARNING: This review will contain spoilers for this film. I will try to keep them minimal, but they will not only pertain to Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, but how it relates to certain plot elements from previous installments in the Resident Evil movie franchise.
It has been fifteen years since the first Resident Evil movie hit the big screen, and kicked off possibly the most successful and long running video game movie franchises we’ve yet to receive. Despite sticking only minimally to selective elements from the games, and eventually going so far off the rails, it’s nearly impossible to keep the final three movies straight in regards to setting and plot, Paul W.S. Anderson somehow managed to helm all six films with almost all surviving cast members returning for more, and actually telling a relatively cohesive overarching story from the first to the last film. I have even considered watching each movie over again, in order to properly examine how the plot develops throughout the series, now that I know how it ends. For now, though, let’s take a look at The Final Chapter, and the closure it brings to the franchise.
After a brief introduction which completely rewrites the origin of the Red Queen from the first film, and thereby calls into question the entire plotline for the second, we are reintroduced to Alice, the steadfast heroine of this series, foraging about in the ruins of Washington D.C., likely continuing her quest to take down the Umbrella Corporation once and for all. Suddenly and randomly, she is given the opportunity to do just that. Greeted by the Red Queen, Alice is informed that the last remaining settlement of survivors is scheduled to be destroyed in 48 hours, and the only way of stopping the onslaught is with the airborne antivirus, a catch-all god machine that effectively hits the reset button on this whole apocalypse narrative (maybe not entirely, because rebuilding is definitely going to be a thing) by destroying the T-Virus and all who are infected with it. And where else might this antivirus be found, but back where all of this started? The Hive. Raccoon City’s underground Umbrella lab. Dutifully, Alice sets off on her final journey.
From here, the action kicks off, and truly never ends. The rest of the movie consists almost entirely of one action scene after another, with an almost steady increase in absurdity. At any rate, the movie is not boring. There is a lot of creativity to the violence, much in the same way that The Walking Dead always seeks to outdo itself. Milla Jovovich, naturally, brings the action to life in a way that few could. Since the beginning, she has breathed life into Alice’s character, and her unflinching demeanor and dedication to a singular goal are all too familiar at this point, as she continues her streak of clashing with every alpha character, and anyone else who considers their own survival to be more important than Alice’s vendetta against Umbrella (I honestly believe that saving the human race is secondary to Alice’s drive to murder the people responsible for sticking needles in her brain and killing her boyfriend). To that end, if all you’re looking for is refreshingly creative action sequences and Alice being a badass, you will not be disappointed by this movie.
Unfortunately, while good action is paramount to a good action flick, it is not the singular quality that makes it a good movie. While the action is impressive at times, it does seem to be almost all that the movie has to offer. Character interactions are minimal and predictable, and thereby easy to shrug off in the grand scheme of things. Characters die, and who were they anyway? The story progression is fleeting, barely more engaging than BvS, as quickly as it moves from one scene to the next. While I was initially elated at the prospect of Alice returning to The Hive, and the incredible potential this held for the movie, the actual Hive portion of the film is minimal, and there is really only one revisit from the first film, and yes, it’s the hall of lasers, and yes, it’s probably the coolest scene in the movie (although I could have done without my wife protesting, “Just lie down. If she would just lie down, she’d be fine. She doesn’t have to do all those flips. This is ridiculous.”) Then, there’s the editing. Dear god, the camera cuts. If there were any more camera cuts during the action scenes, we wouldn’t have been able to even tell, because they would have matched up with the frame rate. Every fight scene was literally a strobe of thrown punches and reaction shots. This did absolutely no justice to the work that the actors did to bring the fight scenes to light.
From a story standpoint, there were a number of disappointments. Remember the rewriting I mentioned? The Red Queen, the AI defense system that played an integral role in the events of the first movie, was based on the likeness of Angie Ashford, daughter of Charles Ashford, who invented the T-Virus to help save his daughter from. Both were central to the storyline of the second film, where Alice is sent on an escort mission to save Angie from a zombie infested Raccoon City in order to secure safe passage for herself and her friends. Now, in The Final Chapter, the Red Queen is modeled after Alicia, daughter of Dr. Marcus, who created the T-Virus to cure his daughter of what they claim to be Progeria, a disease which causes those afflicted to appear aged far beyond their years. Movie producers understand this to mean “rapid aging process”, whereas the reality of the disease is far different, and individuals with Progeria rarely make it to adulthood. Erroneous representation of real world diseases aside, the main issue here is that one of the central characters from the first two films has been retroactively negated for the sake of a borderline soap opera plot twist. As far as the series strayed from the central storyline and characters of the game, they could have ended the franchise in so many different ways, yet they concoct a nonsensical, feel good ending that really, while not entirely surprising, also makes no sense from a narrative standpoint, and serves mostly as a cop out to the actual consequences of administering the antivirus.
So, what did you think? Have you seen The Final Chapter? Have you watched any, or all, of the previous movies? How do you feel about Paul W.S. Anderson’s treatment of the franchise, and how would you like the series reboot to differ? Also, would there be any interest in a full series breakdown of all the movies, to discuss parallels to the games, and other interesting developments of the franchise? Let us know in the comments, and maybe I’ll start working on my movie marathon.