“Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” Movie Review


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     And so it ends.  Hopefully.  Writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson and Milla Jovovich return for the sixth and final installment of the “Resident Evil” film franchise, this time dubbed “The Final Chapter”.  It’s hard to believe this franchise has been around for 15 years, considering the roller coaster of ups and downs experienced from film to film.  I’ve never played the video game, but I really did like the initial installment that kicked off the series in 2002.  Though nearly every aspect of each film owes a debt in some way to the classic science fiction and horror films that came before it (In a recent interview, Jovovich admitted she built her character, Alice, around inspiration from Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley of the “Alien” films.), it’s actually interesting now to think just how influential these films may have been on the zombie apocalypse trend we’ve been experiencing for years now with the glut of movies and television shows led by the ultra popular “The Walking Dead”.  Wouldn’t it be something to realize maybe “Resident Evil” was the catalyst all along?

     After a nearly five year absence, “The Final Chapter” arrives after what I consider the worst of the series, “Resident Evil: Retribution”, a film so bad, it looked to be the franchise killer that would end Anderson’s vision of completing the story of Alice, the Umbrella Corporation, Raccoon City, and the dreaded T-Virus.  As we say, time heals old wounds, but so does money, and it can’t be denied that the “Resident Evil” film franchise owns a worldwide box office take of about $1 billion.  Returning for the final go around along with Jovovich are series favorites Ali Larter as Claire and Shawn Roberts as Wesker, in addition to Iain Glen as Dr. Isaacs, who began appearing in these films in 2004’s “Resident Evil: Apocalypse” and was likely dismissed as an unknown.  Times of course have changed, and Glen now suffers from the type casting that comes from having starred in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” as a recurring character for the past six seasons.  You see Dr. Isaacs now and automatically expect him to belt out something in reference to Daenerys Targaryen! But I digress.

     After enjoying the many Oscar worthy films in release the past two months, the new calendar year will bring a number of films constructed in similar fashion to “The Final Chapter”.  Anderson’s script doesn't exactly jump out at you with stellar or memorable dialogue, but is it really supposed to?  As a director, his wheel house is the creation of visual mayhem, and fans of the series will have nothing to complain about when it comes to the rather complex action set pieces Anderson unveils using his rapid fire bombastic style.  Alice (Jovovich) has survived the endless zombie hordes and the nefarious plots of the Umbrella Corporation for, well, 15 years now.  And she still has no problem violently dispatching them in droves.  In a bit of a twist, the dreaded Red Queen (Ever Anderson, the director and star’s real life daughter.) finds it within her programming to contact Alice and advise her of the dwindling status of the world’s human population.  In order to save what’s left, the Red Queen reveals the existence of a T-Virus cure being housed in The Hive deep below Raccoon City.

     And as you may guess, that’s exactly what drives the plot for the next 90 or so minutes, as Alice and a band of survivors work their way to Raccoon City in an attempt to get the cure and unleash it before it’s too late.  Along the way, there are zombie armies, Umbrella Corporation soldiers, blood, guts, fire, and mass mayhem.  But would you expect anything less?  Not if you find yourself sitting in the theater purposely watching this film in the first place.  For me, it was more about closure after observing what I felt was the franchise high in 2010’s “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, only to experience one of 2012’s worst films of the year with “Resident Evil: Retribution.”  And like the ongoing “Fast and Furious” series, “Resident Evil” likely began to grow on people simply because of the number of films and the character development that happens even if it’s mostly be accident.  It’s easy to root for Alice and the mostly female hero cast featured in each film, and to a certain extent, it’s the “Resident Evil” franchise which has proven a female driven action franchise can succeed over a long period of time.

     With the series now at an official close (Though the final shot leaves open the possibility for more installments.), it will be interesting to see where the careers of real life husband and wife Anderson and Jovovich will go next.  I’ve never really been a fan of Anderson’s work, as his PG-13 butchering of 2004’s “Alien vs. Predator” was nearly unforgivable, but he also has had several moments of redemption, including the aforementioned “Resident Evil: Afterlife”, as well as his work on 2008’s “Death Race”, a film that if compared side by side would give “Mad Max: Fury Road” a run for its money on the sheer bravado of its muscle car action sequences.  Perhaps an indie film or two is in order for both of them, so as to hone their respective crafts before the next foray into another inevitable video game inspired franchise.  

GRADE: C