Wednesday 1 November 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2017) - Movie Review

Release Date: January 26, 2017
Genre: Action, Horror, Science-Fiction
Director/Writer: Paul W.S. Anderson
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Shawn Roberts, Iain Glen, Ever Gabo Anderson, Ali Larter, Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken, William Levy, Rola

Plot: Alice, one of the only survivors of the zombie apocalypse, is contacted by the Red Queen, the A.I. of the villainous Umbrella Corporation. She is told that deep within the Hive, an Umbrella facility where the outbreak started, the company has developed an antivirus that may help save what is left of humanity. She has 48 hours to find the antivirus before Umbrella unleashes another wave of the zombie-creating T-Virus and ends humanity, and there are thousands of zombies between her and her goal.

Acting: Milla Jovovich might be one of the blandest action heroes of the millennium and no doubt a strawman excuse for why there aren’t as many female action stars currently in circulation. Unfortunately, even on the supposed final lap of the franchise that gave her her prominent in the industry, this does nothing to change that impression. Nevermind the fact that she’s been written to breeze through pretty much every single encounter she’s given, Jovovich herself lacks in the charisma that is sorely needed to make this kind of uber-powerful action hero work.

Aside from her, we essentially get sentient window-dressing and I’m not sure whether or not to be thankful that the film isn’t trying to placate fans of the video game series by shoehorning-in dozens of characters from it; we get Claire Redfield, we get Wesker and that’s about it. And quite frankly, aside from Milla Jovovich’s involvement, the villains are the only ones who end up registering any kind of reaction and not for any of the good reasons. Shawn Roberts is used to the slimy shoes of Wesker by now, and he fulfills his obligation as a barely-even-trying-to-hide-it villain role. Then there’s Iain Glen, whose sheer bloody-mindedness when it comes to chasing after Alice looks like he’s trying for Javert and ventured too far towards the Russell Crowe version without the singing… and he’s somehow even more laughable.

Liked: If I have to be charitable to this thing, I can at least say that it’s a fairly easy film to get into without the five films worth of follow-up. The Resident Evil films have always played hard and fast with their continuity, up to and including reducing the entire world to a desert wasteland in one film and then it suddenly isn’t in the next, and this is no exception. As such, it manages to avoid the pitfall that even the better franchise pictures of today fall into and doesn’t out-and-out require the audience to do their homework in order to watch the latest installment. If it sounds like I’m stretching for a positive, it’s only because I am.

Disliked: The action scenes are mesmerising in how incompetent they are, with Anderson and editor Doobie White apparently stringing themselves out on molly before setting out to stage these setpieces. I don’t know when exactly incoherent shaky-cam nausea became the mainstay for modern action filmmakers, but this continues the tradition by highlighting it at its absolute worst. The camerawork is way too close to the action, meaning that we barely get to see any of it, and the editing seems unable to hold onto a single shot for more than a second, resulting in disorientation pretending to be exciting.

And speaking of things trying and failing to be exciting, this film’s horror credibility is dubious at best. Now, don’t get me wrong; not every zombie film automatically needs to be scary and I have liked many a stupid zombie action film in the past. However, if a film is going to try and be scary in this context, it needs to do a lot better than just insert lame jump scares every five minutes. It’s bad enough when they are telegraphed as badly as they are here, but when there is little to no atmosphere or tension to create even surface chills, you start to wonder why they even bothered in the first place.

Of course, this is all small potatoes next to the behemoth of a problem that is the story here. I am 100% convinced that Anderson just made it up as he went along because, aside from not making sense in continuity to the previous films, it fails to even make sense with itself. It keeps bringing up plot points and then dropping them off thematic cliffs so often that, even if you are somehow on board with this narrative, you will likely fall right out of sync with it before too long. Then we get into the specifics and it’s here where one of the bigger lingering issues of the franchise, Alice’s character, somehow reaches a crescendo of stupid. She maintains her status as literally the only competent character on screen, but once we get to the ending, we see just how far they are willing to go in order to keep up her image as the best thing ever in this film’s universe. The fact that the two most active characters, Alice and the Red Queen, are played by the director’s wife and daughter respectively really drives home what a truly egotistical exercise this is. This officially being called The Final Chapter is probably the most entertaining thing about this, knowing how much Paul W.S. Anderson sucks at actually concluding his stories.

Final Thoughts: If you have the capacity to laugh at bad movies, rather than just feel like you’re wasting your own time, then you might get some entertainment out of this. Otherwise, there is honestly no reason to watch this. The story makes no sense, regardless of whether you’ve caught up with the previous films or not, the action is lame, the acting is bare bones and Anderson’s boastful approach to storytelling is alive and well, resulting in a rather pathetic offering.

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