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It’s now the sixth installment in the long-running zombie-themed horror series, supposedly the last, and is an attempt to bring it all back to its origins, with returning heroes and foes who face off once again in Raccoon City, where it all began. But ‘back to the start’ doesn’t necessarily translate to ‘back to the basics’ as the film only continues the franchise habit of abandoning story for heavy, explosive action, and feels a bit weary but does what it intends with a kind of fascinating commitment that is hard not to appreciate.
It begins a few weeks after the last film, Retribution, with Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakening in the devastated Washington D.C. where she makes contact with The Red Queen (Ever Anderson), the story-wide antagonist artificial intelligence centered at the Umbrella Corporation, who now asks Alice for help. She claims there is an airborne virus that will kill every organism infected by the T-virus and can save humanity, but she must come within the next 48 years. She promises answers for Alice and why she is betraying her creators, but only when she arrives.
Along the way, Alice encounters Dr. Issacs (Iain Glen), thought long-dead, but with an interesting story and and a new mission. Alice escapes him and makes her way to another group that comes to join her in an assault on the Umbrella compound, though she warns them that there is something horrific approaching fast. With a collision course mounting that will determine the fate of mankind, it comes down to one final chance to bring Umbrella down and save the world.
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, whose now helmed four in the franchise (and produced all), Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is if anything, 106 minutes of fiery action, something the series has progressed to with each entry. Essentially dialogue-free, beyond shouted orders and colorful quips, it is a relentless torrent of explosions and combat that, as with all the others, defies logic and physics in place of pure adrenaline pumping action. And yet, despite that, does suffer from stretches of banality that undercut the momentum, simply because it lacks a surreal edge to it that the some of the other entries possess. As a fan of the game series, there’s little here that really captures the feeling of those titles, aside from the names and setting, but I can’t help be feel a connection to the silliness of the movies for the same reason.
That said, any franchise that reaches its sixth entry is catering to a specific audience, and yes, even though the movie spends a healthy chunk of the beginning playing catch-up, those with no knowledge of the others are going to be left out a bit, and with a series that began in 2002, that could leave out a large number of viewers. Still, it’s not like you need much to understand what is happening. This is a visual bombardment of lunacy, and Anderson makes sure that’s understood from the start with a particularly gleeful brawl between Alice in an explosive-filled Hummer and a well, zombie dragon. It’s better to see it than me trying to explain it. Either way, from there, it does what it can to maintain that level of absurdity throughout to varying degrees of success, with Jovovich barely anything more than a cartoon at this point, but always captivating, even fifteen years in. It’s a credit to her that she still brings such enthusiasm to the role, and is without question the singular reason anyone comes to watch.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter isn’t the best in the series but it’s among the top, and even though all involved claim it’s the last, there’s still a sense it won’t be. If anything, it’s a signal that if that is true, it’s time to think about a new director and writer. That said, taking this one for it is, it probably won’t disappoint.
Movie description: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a 2017 science-fiction horror film about the final conflict between the survivors of the apocalypse and the Umbrella Corporation that started it
Director(s): Paul W.S. Anderson
Actor(s): Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter
Genre: Action, Thriller