Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
When I emerge from the cinema and note down my preliminary thoughts on a film, I usually divide the bullet points up into positives and negatives. However, with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, I didn’t bother. Everything awful about this movie is simultaneously – through some warping of Newtonian physics – awesome. Milla Jovovich’s terminal appearance as super-powered rebel warrior Alice is a trashterpiece [sic] of epic proportions; a calamitous climax stuffed with gore, scenery-crunching performances, corny one-liners and enough zombies to populate a whole trilogy.
An anti-virus for the zombie plague sweeping the Earth has been uncovered, and Alice has two days to save humanity from the villainous Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen, still having a tonne of fun) and his army of undead. Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), the man who wears sunglasses not only indoors, but underground, is also still in play. With a strict 48-hour race against the clock, the plot proceeds in a remarkably stripped-down fashion. Insipid exposition (a mainstay of the saga so far) is confined to an opening catch-up and a handful of flashbacks. Having likely realised that the narrative doesn’t make a lick of sense (not that we’ve bothered keeping up), I can only assume writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson deleted the original screenplay, turned to all involved and pleaded “Can we just have fun this time?”
And what fun we have, intentionally or otherwise. It’s the closest this franchise has ever come to its ultimate aim of having Jovovich sit and play one of the Resident Evil video games. As far as signifiers go, where to start? Poorly written NPCs, quick-time events, boss battles, and even (I promise I’m not making this up) a saved inventory slot from a previous checkpoint all show up. In this jaw-dropping retcon, Alice and company stumble upon a bag of guns in the heart of Umbrella's Hive facility, allegedly left behind in the very first movie 15 years ago…and somehow, Anderson makes it work!
In every other area, the film is infectiously poor, like a celluloid version of Umbrella’s T-virus. As it progresses, you slowly devolve into a cackling zombie, blood pouring from your eyes…by which I mean it’s unintentionally hilarious and appears to have been edited with a chainsaw. To The Final Chapter's credit, even with your vision finely sliced you’ll be relieved to notice this installment is more visually interesting than previous entries (read: there’s more than two colours in the palette). The fight scenes are a gobsmacking mess of quick cuts and low-res CGI, but cracking sound design ensures that every punch feels like a blunt knock from a boulder. That’s not an easy level to maintain, especially considering that Alice is struck unconscious a staggering five times during a multitude of brawls.
Combat is seemingly endless, interspersed occasionally with landmark plot twists delivered with such a straight face that the only response from my fellow patrons and I was a scream of disbelieving laughter. When faced with a particularly unsettling divergence in his plans, Dr. Isaacs chortles a line of dialogue referencing the Holy Trinity that will surely achieve mythic status amongst fans. In the midst of such a connect-the-dots script, it’s a reminder that this sort of schlock is what we paid to see. Why complain about lack of depth or the moral implications of releasing bio-toxins into the environment when we’re gifted the spectacle of Alice blasting zombie Cerberi to pieces with a triple-barrelled shotgun?
However, that’s a quandary for those already in the cinema. For those still reluctant to book tickets, only one question remains: how much enjoyment will you get, watching a tireless woman taking on megalomaniacs and their limitless supply of idiotic ideas/spittle/gold hair dye? In the current climate, I suspect the answer will be “Quite a lot!” Final advice: don’t see this in a cinema. Wait for it to hit DVD (forget Blu-ray, the effects won’t look any better), gather a few friends, involve liberal amounts of pizza and enjoy.