Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a film that exists in 3 minute patches. Short sections of silence are almost always punctuated by a piercingly loud jump scare and zombie shriek. This is always resolved with Milla Jovovich kicking ass. Sometimes she gets knocked down and laughs a reply of “is that all you got?” before kicking ass.
If you’ve seen these films before you’ll know what to expect. If those moments sound appealing, you just might have a good time with the last Resident Evil film.
The film opens with a dense recap. A young girl struck with rapid aging is saved by her father’s invention of the T-Virus. The T-Virus also happens to cure humanity of what ails them, until it turns them into zombies. Umbrella Corp murders the father when he wants the T-Virus pulled, and the young girl’s personality is downloaded into Umbrella’s computer as their A.I. The young girl was Alice, Milla Jovovich is now Alice. I hadn’t seen a Resident Evil in ten years and felt sufficiently caught up.
The first half of the film feels like Mad Max mixed with Fallout as Jovovich wanders a wasteland in search of survivors. The set designs for these and the rest of the film were a highlight, showing an unusual amount of restraint and balance concerning CGI and practical effects. A scene on a dystopian rooftop featured wheat gardens that felt appropriate to the setting and were an unexpected detail in a film not usually concerned with detail.
Unfortunately, most of the film cannot be described with the word restraint. The high pitched shrieks I mentioned are overused and grating. The action is edited so abruptly it’s difficult to track. Anderson’s style might have worked better in 2D, but the 3D version I saw couldn’t keep up. Frames bled into each other until it looked like I was watching multiple films at once.
Conversely, many of the moments of potential vulnerability were spoiled by slow, unrealistic pacing that robbed scenes of any tension. Monsters spent far too much time shrieking instead of attacking. If a Lion roared that much before pouncing it would never eat.
In its own way, The Final Chapter feels very similar to a video game. Jovovich relentlessly moves forward, stumbles upon enemies, and deals with them using weapons that suddenly appear in her vision. The camera focusing on her knife grab in particular, felt like an homage to gameplay.
The second half of the film sees Jovovich team up with some friendly but barely written humans to defend an outpost and eventually go back to Raccoon City and The Hive. The set-piece of Jovovich and the humans defending their tower was the most visually compelling. There’s a particularly imaginative use of gasoline and fire I won’t spoil here. Although the setup is lacking in logic, the payoff was worth it.
The final act sees the good humans infiltrating a base that has far too many conveniently placed trap doors that would only see use in this ridiculously specific situation. The Bond-villain defenses were silly but the creepy lab Jovovich ends up in is another great piece of set design.
I don’t expect the world out of a Resident Evil movie, but there weren’t enough fun moments to fully recommend a theatre viewing to anyone not already invested in the franchise. Seeing it at home with like-minded friends could be an entertaining time however, as Anderson fills the flick with over the top sensibilities best enjoyed in a group setting.