Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
107 minutes (15)
The Resident Evil movies have made a habit of upsetting the odds.
Arguably the only consistently successful film franchise to be based on a video game, with six films in the series to date, the arrival of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter has seen the Milla Jovovich-led zombie saga climb to a total of over $1 billion at the box office.
Aping the trick first played by the makers of the Friday the 13th films, -who subtitled Number four in the franchise as “the final chapter” and scored so big at the box office they continued with another film – the inclusion of these three words in the title almost sounds like a plea to hardcore fans that this will be the last outing, honest.
And while there probably is plenty happening across this near-two hours of loud, violent zombie-led action to keep Resident Evil aficionados entertained, most casual viewers will probably be left with just one burning question: What in holy fuck is going on here?
Things start badly enough, with an exposition-heavy opening montage, voiced over by Jovovich, explaining all of the events leading up to this movie. A lot of crazy, confusing shit has happened.
Convoluted to put it mildly, this early intro should have been enough to put us off the densely-plotted film that followed but, alas, we simply couldn’t look away from this particular car crashed.
Having missed all of the entries running from no.2 (Apocalypse) through to no.5 (retribution) it’s difficult to get a real grasp on what the hell is going on though the film’s lazy, exposition-led dialogue is at least on hand.
Things start with Jovovich stranded in the ruins of Washington DC (apparently this has no link to the previous film) only to run into the Red Queen – a strange Hal-like supercomputer who takes the form of a strange little girl not dissimilar to Regan from the Exorcist.
Apparently there is now a cure to the zombie virus that has infected the world and it’s located in the Hive, a hi-tech fortress controlled by the Umbrella Corporation and their dastardly leader Dr Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen).
He’s ably supported by a team of faceless goons and some guy who looks like Gavin Rossdale’s stunt double and insists on wearing sunglasses while operating high-tech weaponry from a dark underground bunker.
Right from the off, the action comes thick and fast with director Paul W.S. Anderson, once a highly regarded filmmaker, doing an able job with some excellent special effects and a physically impressive performance from Jovovich who puts in a damn fine shift as the film’s heroine. On some level it stays true to its roots, with moments playing out like the cut scenes that feature in the original games though.
It’s all very loud and brash though, with barely a second passing without some zombie monster or generic soldier man jumping into shot to engage with Jovovich in hand-to-hand combat. With predictable results.
Alas, with the jump scares averaging at almost one every minute, any tension quickly evaporates, with the film becoming something akin to Mad Max: Fury Road, if that film was bogged down in enough complicated mythology to make even George RR Martin blush.
Teaming up with a bland band of survivors (including an underused Ruby Rose) that sets up arguably the least surprising twist ever, Jovovich goes up against Umbrella for one final fight in the Hive.
Or something like that anyway. Glen’s character Dr Isaacs (the man behind this mental zombie infection plan, apparently inspired by the Bible) was supposed to have been killed off in the last movie but returns here courtesy of a couple of clones, or something like that anyway. Honestly, it’s just too lazily done and absurd for us to even care though Glen’s unhinged performance is both ridiculous and brilliant all at once.
The action remains frequent and visually impressive but as the film lurches towards a plot-heavy conclusion that includes some dodgy make-up effects and an excess of hand-to-hand combat that would even send Jackie Chan fans to sleep, you’ll be praying this is the final chapter.
Somehow we doubt it though. After all, Resident Evil movies do have a habit of upsetting the odds.