Rage, rage against the dying of the…eh, never mind: “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter”January 31, 2017
Since it’s got the word final right there in the title, I have to assume that Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is indeed the last installment of this brain-dead franchise to grace the silver screen. And I have to admit, I find this a little bittersweet. I mean, the Resident Evil movies were never what you’d call good or creative or a worthwhile utilization of money, talent or time, but after 15 (wow!) years they’ve been a kind of companion. Like a very, very dumb dog that shows up from time to time to play fetch, only to get distracted by its own shadow. After a while you just gotta figure if you’re disappointed in it for not composing Shakespeare, well, that’s on you. I mean, you know what it was when it started trying to dry-hump a football.
Alright, so we’re back in Resident Evil land. When we last left off some 4+ years ago, Alice had joined forces with Albert Wesker and was manning the battlements of the ruins of Washington DC against the T-virus infected hoards. Remember that? No? Well, don’t worry about it, because the movie hand-waves it away with a couple lines of dialogue that explain that Wesker betrayed everybody and the walls fell. Milla Jovovich doesn’t actually turn to camera and say, “Look, a massive all-out war with the zombies would have been hella expensive and—let’s face it—no one working on these movies has the technical expertise to pull that off—we’re the people that made Ultraviolet, remember?—so just cut some slack here.” But she might as well.
But then the movie goes back in time to give us the background of the R&D into the T-virus and the corporate machinations involved at the Umbrella Corporation. That’s right, this latest installment in a movie franchise that ostensibly exists only to put Milla Jovovich in tight costumes and kill monsters wants you to know the business prospectus of its fictional mega-corporation. And the damnedest things is it’s relevant to the movie! That’s right, you actually need this info dump about the various corporate entanglements and personal intrigues and rivalries for a movie that begins with Milla killing a flying zombie-monster with a pick-up truck.
I know. It hurts my brain, too.
And no, I’m not going to recap it, because who gives a fuck?
So, somehow Milla’s character Alice stumbles across her old nemesis the computer A.I. known as the Red Queen (played by Jovovich and director/husband Paul W.S. Anderson’s daughter Ever Anderson, which means everyone in the Anderson/Jovovich household is earning a paycheck from this flick), who tells her that there’s a magical reset-button/deus ex machine located back in The Hive, the underground facility that was the setting of the first movie. And Alice needs to do that ASAP, because within 48 hours all of humanity will be wiped out. So…Red Queen had 15 years to impart this info to Alice, but instead decided to wait until the human race was less populous than the cast of Game of Thrones. Wow, thanks stupid computer.
Anyway, this gives Alice her mission and she’s off to Raccoon City and The Hive to save humanity. This takes a surprisingly long time as the movie decides to stuff in a weird subplot about one of the original Hive scientists’ becoming a religious fanatic who tries to capture Alice because everyone’s always trying to capture Alice for reasons that seem to change depending upon the installment.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter eschews a class-reunion template for it’s final installment (that was in the last movie), opting instead for ginned-up and retconned “revelations” about its central character, which is great, because we were all wondering about Alice’s inner life (kidding: we weren’t). But it also doubles down on the Resident Evil mythology, which was always one of this franchise’s more laughable traits. These movies genuinely expected the audiences to remember and care the characters, motivations, and relationships of all the previous installments. It’s like trying to build a story arc into a Bazooka Joe comic strip. Look, we only barely glance at that before we chew the bubble gum. The bubble gum in this case being Milla Jovovich in tight outfights fighting zombies.
Most disappointingly, though, Anderson seems to have eschewed the franchise’s trademark slo-mo, hyper-unreal action sequences for ones filmed and edited by, if I had to guess, an epileptic squirrel on the upswing of a meth bender. Anyone who can discern what’s going on in any given action sequence deserves a medal, because I sure couldn’t. Most of the time, I was just trying to stave off the incipient seizure.
On top of that, we have:
* Ruby Rose pops in for a hot minute or two before being unceremoniously killed-off—presumably, so she could co-star in xXx: The Return of Xander Cage. That’s pretty much the definition of a lateral move.
* Wesker even wears his leather tactical-BDSM outfit and shades when he’s kicking it in his underground bunker having some Scotch. Well, it’s the end of humanity. You do you, I guess.
* Bonus points for the movie finally providing an explanation for why the Umbrella Corporation seemed to think turning their client base into bloodthirsty monsters was the road to profit. Seems, they wanted to scourge humanity so they could rebuild the world in their image. Although, given the fact that their plan seems to have left the world a shattered wasteland, maybe someone should have run that plan through R&D a few more times.
Well, that’s it for Resident Evil. It was a good run, no two ways about that, but there always comes a time to put Ol’ Yeller down. Oh well, we’ll always have the cleavage-mounted-spider-thingee….