Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (USA, 2017) brings the tale of the world’s unluckiest woman to a close

  • David Smith
  • January 27, 2017
  • Comments Off on Film Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (USA, 2017) brings the tale of the world’s unluckiest woman to a close

If there’s one thing you can rely on in a Resident Evil movie, it certainly isn’t subtlety.  Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is what it says on the tin — the last film in Paul W. S. Anderson‘s increasingly bonkers series of action horror films adapted from the video game franchise of the same name. For fans keen to know how Alice’s story ends, the film will hopefully clear up any nagging questions you may have left. For everyone else, it’s kind of like sitting too close to a jet engine for a couple of hours — noisy and disorienting.

The film begins following the events of Resident Evil: Retribution (which ended with longtime series villain Arnold Wesker revealing to series heroine Alice (Milla Jojovich) that the rogue computer AI The Red Queen (played here by Jojovich and Anderson’s daughter Ever Anderson) has reached the final step of her apparent plan to annihilate humanity. The film opens a few weeks later with Alice still in the devastated remains of Washington DC, eking out a Mad Max-esque post-apocalyptic living.

Alice spends much of the film clashing with the evil Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Game of Thrones’ Iain Glen) and his collection of … rolling wasteland pain wagons? They’re gigantic tanks that contain uninfected humans. Each of these tanks is moving towards Raccoon City, the site of the original T-Virus outbreak that destroyed humanity, being very noisy and obvious but not quite fast enough that they can’t draw millions zombies into their wake.

With each of these tanks towing hordes of infected toward Raccoon City, Alice is given an opportunity to finally stop Umbrella in their tracks — by none other than The Red Queen who has apparently been operating under Isaac’s orders this whole time but is now being forced to do things that contradict her programming. She outlines a plan for Alice to put an end to Umbrella’s madness once and for all, rolls out the old Ticking Clock plot device (in this case a literal one attached to Alice’s wrist) and sets Alice on her path to ultimate vengeance. The second half of the film has a number of surprises and plot twists for long time fans, but none of them are clever enough that you couldn’t figure them out with an even halfway educated guess.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter‘s biggest problem is that it suffers from a lack of focus. It tells its story the way someone who suffers from attention-deficit disorder might — characters assert a particular opinion only to change it without any real reason moments later, the editing is so fast that it confuses what’s happening in the midst of a fight, events occur because they have to in order for the plot to progress rather than being a progression of cause-to-effect and, without exaggeration, there are more jump scares in this film than in ten other horror movies combined. They happen so often that they actually start to slow the movie down. Remember in 300 how, at a certain point, the sheer amount of sweaty-men-leaping-through-the-air-in-slow-motion began to hold the movie up? Take the sweaty men and replace them with jump scares and that should give you a good idea of what watching Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is like. There’s no tension to them, there’s just you waiting patiently for the latest Thing to jump out at Alice so we can get a move on.

It’s not all bad, however. There are plenty of action set pieces that are great fun — Alice being thrust from the pain wagon on a cable and made to run in front of the gigantic zombie horde is a striking image and one of the film’s most memorable. And despite how seriously the film seems to take itself, there are flashes of genuinely hilarious, good-natured self-awareness. At several moments (that I won’t spoil) I caught myself thinking “Man, this is like a video ga-oh right, well played.”

The supporting cast is made of up a couple of returning faces like Ali Larter as Claire Redfield and a slew of fresh ones, but by the end of the film I couldn’t tell you what any of their names were. The film moves at such a rapid clip that they don’t really get to do anything but spout “Where to now?” lines that move the plot forward and react to the jump scares.

My personal favourite casting surprise was the random appearance of Ruby Rose playing a character named Abigail. Abigail, like most of the supporting cast, doesn’t really get to do very much of anything, aside from one rather memorable flipping of the bird, but it’s always nice to see Ruby no matter what she’s in.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a greatest hits of a movie series that seems to have done very well for itself in spite of its many strange storytelling choices and myriad directorial quirks. Many of the same crazy set pieces from previous films show up and it tries to tie up as many strings as it can within its 1 hour and 50 minute run time. If you are a fan of the series and have stuck with it this long then you’ll likely have a great time with this film. For everyone else, it will be a barrage of sound and fury and brow-furrowing leaps of logic.

Review Score: TWO AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is released in Australian cinemas today, January 26th.

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David Smith

David Smith is the former games and technology editor at The AU Review. He has previously written for PC World Australia. You can find him on Twitter at @RhunWords.

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