Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson
I’ve got to admit: I get the Resident Evil and Underworld franchises mixed up at times. I mean, each one features a gorgeous, leather-clad, gun-toting, kick-ass actress who is/was married to her director and is fighting supernatural forces in every movie but never seems to make much progress. I’ve been around long enough to’ve been on the beat of both of these super-successful franchises since movie one. I realize there are more differences than similarities – and what’s more, the Resident Evil series is the most profitable game-to-movie series in the history of cinema, with the first five installments earning consistent #1 openings at the box office.
So, is the Final Chapter worthy of another top debut, and perhaps more importantly for fans, is it really the last word on heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) and the T-Virus-addled zombies of Raccoon City? (Actually, I’m not going to answer that second question – no spoilers here.)
The movie hits the ground running. And punching, kicking, and maiming. I’m not kidding – there’s no easing-in here. We catch up with Alice after her crushing defeat in Washington, D.C., and the demise of her personal army, which we witnessed in Resident Evil: Retribution. Alice is given one last chance to save humanity from final destruction according to the evil Umbrella Corporation’s plan. She decides to go for it.
Once in the dystopian Raccoon City, Alice quickly makes contact with a new group of freedom fighters – one of the last holdouts against the zombie apocalypse. Among these survivors are Claire Redfield (Larter) and her new boyfriend, Doc (Macken). Doc is the de facto leader of the group, and at first he’s not sure he can trust Alice… however, when she saves his bacon with some killer martial arts moves, he changes his tune. Iain Glen is back as the deliciously wicked Dr. Alexander Isaacs, as is Shawn Roberts in the role of the relentless Albert Wesker.
Writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson (he’s written all of the Resident Evil movie screenplays but has not helmed them all) gets off to a rocky and abrupt start, but after a while the story takes shape and you start caring about the characters and what happens. However, in spite of the worthy new additions to the cast (Ruby Rose of “Orange Is the New Black” has the most marquee appeal), there are so many of them that they wind up being little more than canon fodder. I think the filmmakers would have been better off focusing on what really works: Alice squaring off with Isaacs and Wesker. Those moments in the movie are intense.
Speaking of intense, there are several superbly wrought moments of suspense that really pay off. Not just in terms of blood and gore, but from a psychological standpoint as well. What’s more, the zombie dogs are back, and they are more vicious than ever. The horror and sci-fi aspects of the Final Chapter fire on all cylinders. When it comes to the payoff we’ve all been waiting for since first meeting Alice and delving into her mystery, I found it satisfying.
But let’s face it. When all is said and done, the Final Chapter is a Resident Evil movie. It’s not deep and it probably won’t leave a lasting impression on any but the most diehard fans. However, if you’re looking for tons of action, bloodthirsty monsters, and you want to see Alice kick ass, then Resident Evil: The Final Chapter will fill the bill.