The Final Chapter meets the standard for mindless thrills set by the previous Resident Evil films, ending the series on more of a shrug than a bang.
Shortly after the events of Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice (Milla Jovovich) once again finds herself on her own – when it turns out what was supposed to be humankind’s final stand against the zombie hordes in Washington, DC was really a trap set by Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and the Umbrella Corporation, leaving humanity on the brink of extinction and Alice without her superhuman abilities. Alice then finds an unexpected ally in the Red Queen (Ever Anderson), as the supercomputer informs Alice that Umbrella developed an antivirus for the T-virus and keeps it secured beneath the streets of what remains of Raccoon City.
Informed by the Red Queen that she has only 48 hours to travel to Raccoon City and unleash the antivirus before the Umbrella Corporation launches a final strike against the remaining survivors of the zombie apocalypse, Alice takes off for the desolated city in the hopes of saving the world’s uninfected from extinction. Along the way, Alice encounters not only new allies and enemies, but also an old friend in Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) – as well as an old enemy, in the form of long-thought-dead Umbrella founder Dr. Alexander Isaacs (Ian Glen). Alice, Claire and their comrades thus launch a final assault against both Isaacs and Wesker, in the process uncovering even more secrets about Umbrella… as well as Alice herself.
Wife-husband duo Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson have been making Resident Evil movies together for nearly fifteen years, with Jovovich headlining and Anderson writing every installment (as well as directing the majority of them too) in the Capcom video game-based franchise. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, as its subtitle implies, is intended to serve as the capstone to Jovovich and Anderson’s run on the Resident Evil series – though, that is not to say the film concludes their time on the franchise on a high note. The Final Chapter meets the standard for mindless thrills set by the previous Resident Evil films, ending the series on more of a shrug than a bang.
Directed by Anderson, The Final Chapter abandons the shiny surfaces and 3D filmmaking style of the last two Resident Evil movies (Afterlife and Retribution, both of which were also directed by Anderson), by instead embracing a grimy color palette and darkly-lit 2D visual aesthetic. The Final Chapter also combines explosion-friendly action with extra-nasty zombie creatures and claustrophobic set pieces that bring this movie closer to the Resident Evil property’s roots in intimate survival horror than recent “chapters” have managed to do. However, the film’s excessively ramped-up editing robs its set pieces of their tension and renders many of its close-quarter fight scenes, as well as the stunt work by Jovovich (and her stunt double), semi-incomprehensible. The result is a Resident Evil movie that falls short of being either an exceptional roller coaster ride or unnerving thriller, but admittedly does not drag in terms of pacing – mostly because Anderson never lifts his foot off the gas pedal for an extended period of time.
Anderson’s The Final Chapter screenplay has, for lack of a better description, a very video game-like linear narrative design that moves swiftly from one “boss fight” or “enemy battle” to the next throughout its runtime. The Final Chapter does attempt to tie the larger Resident Evil franchise’s convoluted mythology closer together (starting with its exposition-heavy prologue), but most of those story payoffs fall short at achieving this goal due to them being underdeveloped or rushed. Many a plot hole and lapse in logic arises as the film progresses from one action sequence/set piece to another too, but at this stage Resident Evil fans are no doubt accustomed to the suspension of disbelief required by this franchise – and know how to just “go with it,” as far as confusing plot points and developments are concerned.
Milla Jovovich, for her part, hasn’t lost a step and continues to prove her action star bonafides with her work as the zombie-killing, evil corporation-battling Alice in Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. Thanks to a storyline that sees Alice join forces with both her old pal Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and the Red Queen (Jovovich and Anderson’s daughter, Ever) in the final showdown with the Umbrella Corporation, The Final Chapter has the same thinly-drawn, but still worthwhile female empowerment theme and sense of political expediency as past installments in the franchise. At the same time though, Alice, Claire and the Red Queen’s arcs are very much a secondary concern here, behind all the zombie-related violence and hyperactive thrills.
Ian Glen and Shawn Roberts reprise their respective roles as Dr. Alexander Isaacs and Albert Wesker from previous Resident Evil movies in The Final Chapter – remaining the same fun, if hammy and two-dimensional baddies that they were in previous installments. In addition, The Final Chapter supporting ensemble includes new franchise additions Eoin Macken (The Night Shift), Ruby Rose (xXx: Return of Xander Cage) and Fraser James (Law & Order: UK) as the humans fighting to survive in the wasteland of Raccoon City – all of whom are hastily-sketched archetypes (Macken is the love interest, Rose is the tough gal, and so forth) that fail to leave any sort of lasting impression.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter has many of the same flaws as its predecessors in the areas of plot and craftsmanship – meaning, its problems won’t be anything that longtime fans of the video game movie franchise can’t handle. While it’s disappointing that The Final Chapter is too slapdash and not ambitious enough to wrap up Jovovich and Anderson’s time on the property with a grand finale, the film has a strong-enough sense of finality to suggest that this really will serve as the end of the road for Jovovich’s Alice on the big screen. Steadfast fans should thus enjoy this final ride, even as everyone else waits to see how long it takes for serious talk of a Resident Evil reboot to start making the rounds.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is now playing in U.S. theaters. It is 106 minutes long and is Rated R for sequences of violence throughout.
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