Overview: Alice must race back to The Hive to stop Umbrella and The Red Queen once and for all. Screen Gems; 2017; Rated R; 106 minutes.
Evil Comes Home: If you’re into the Resident Evil film series, at this point nothing should stop you from watching Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. If you’re not into the Resident Evil film series, you have no reason to watch Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. There’s no game-changing stylization or experimental approach like was found in the relentlessly weird and borderline vignette storytelling of Resident Evil: Retribution (please watch the incredible opening sequence of Retribution immediately). Director Paul W. S. Anderson gives the series a fitting, if oddly perfunctory, finale. Old allies and enemies return in a race against time to destroy the T-virus once and for all.
Anderson has gone on record for having wanted to play in the same sandbox as Russell Mulcahy’s Resident Evil: Extinction and for the first act of the movie, it definitely delivered on that front. Sadly, Anderson’s compositions and balletic framing are shortchanged for a more in-your-face hypercut editing style that wasn’t anywhere near the previous entries. It gives the final film a more vital sense of urgency but lacks the visual panache that fans have rallied behind.
High and Low: As Resident Evil: The Final Chapter progresses, the scale and scope winds down from the brazen global approach of the later entries before homing in on its origins. It’s all come down to this: humanity vs corporations vs technology. It’s a display of everything the series knows but without the bold style of Retribution (really, watch Retribution; it’s insane). The cavalcade of characters are cannon fodder, as is tradition for this series. With hilarious commitment, the series returns to using “clones” as a tool to explore artificiality and misdirection.
Iain Glen returns as Dr. Isaacs, proclaiming the character Alice killed in Extinction was a clone. See, the prevailing horror in the series isn’t strictly about zombies, but rather about the manner in which the Umbrella corporation uses individual bodies. It’s the ludicrous as text, capable of exploring deeper themes than what may seem possible from traditional B-movie fare. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is at least trying to engage with resilient ideas all the while letting Milla Jovovich do a 360-degree spin in midair while taking out a handful of bad guys. High art? Debatable. Fun? Absolutely.
As Resident Evil: The Final Chapter reaches its inevitable, oddly poignant conclusion, the horrors the franchise has seen all fade from the screen. While we’ve followed Alice’s excursions for more than a decade, she must now come to terms with her own identity for the first time in the series — not as a symbol, but as a person. One issue I find plaguing various series finales is the unfortunate favor of plot over theme, action over character. Anderson manages to whip it all together in a post-apocalyptic nightmare.
Overall: You know the drill. If you’ve been on board with the series, prepare for it to deliver the goods, even if it can’t quite reach the entertaining heights of other installments. As for everyone else, it’s probably best just to stay away for now.
Featured Image: Screen Gems