I think it’s only fair that I preface this review by saying I grew up as a huge fan of the Resident Evil games. I played the hell out of them in my younger years and when I heard they were turning it into a movie I was beyond excited. Being a Junior in high school I wasn’t quite old enough to buy my way into “Resident Evil” so I got tickets to “Ice Age” and snuck in. I would have been better off seeing “Ice Age” instead.
Since then and over the course of numerous sequels I’d managed to distance myself from my bitter disappointment over the films not being like the games and come to see the films as their own dumb fun sort of thing. They were still far from good films, but they were decent mindless action flicks. And now we’ve come to the supposed “final chapter”, a term horror fans are well acquainted with, where everything comes full circle and the franchise finally delivers on all the wild plot threads that have been building up over the years. Does it manage to deliver or will this series leave this world as it entered it? A disappointing example of what could have been.
The big selling point about “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” is that the series is going back to where it all started: the Hive. If you saw the last film you might recall that Alice and the rest of her gang were headed to Washington to team up with Wesker in a final battle to save humanity. Well, throw that plot detail out the window as the film opens up with a ten minute monologue that rewrites the overall “story” of the franchise. In fact, the entire second film is made null and void during this monologue as the film completely rewrites the history of certain characters to fit the new narrative. To be fair, this series isn’t known for it’s rich attention to detail, but even the “Fast and the Furious” series has a basic understanding of continuity.
Anyways, back to the plot of this film. Alice (Milla Jovovich) emerges from a burnt out bunker as the sole survivor of whatever happened between the last film and this one. The only explanation is a throwaway line during the opening monologue. Somehow the Red Queen (aka the creepy hologram child) is able to relay a message to Alice letting her know that a cure has been developed that will save humanity and destroy all zombies. She just needs to get back to Raccoon City and return to the Hive within 48 hours. Of course, along the way Alice is aided and hampered by some familiar faces.
In theory this should be an easy plot to execute on, but somehow they barely manage to cobble together a sensical story. The new characters are flat and hollow and do nothing but serve as obvious fodder for the various death traps and monsters that await the team. I remember exactly one name and that’s only because they managed to say “Christian” about ten times in a single scene. Even characters who have been with the series since the beginning feel like lifeless husks going through the motions.
Ironically the most entertaining character in the film is the Red Queen who shows more life and spunk than anyone else. Also, I should give a nod to actor Iain Glen who does a good job of being a slightly unhinged menace in the role of Dr. Isaacs.
But let’s assume that you’ve wisely come to this series not for the complex characters or intricate story, but for some decent action and maybe a scare or two. Well, I’m sorry to say that the action has somehow gotten worse since the series started. Actually, to be honest, the fights could have been beautifully choreographed this time around and no one will ever know because they’re buried under an onslaught of jump cuts. Action scenes whip back and forth with blinding speed to the point where I wasn’t even sure who was hitting who in a fight between two people.
Things get even worse when multiple CGI monsters are thrown in. At that point it just looks like the film was edited with a blender. Which is an absolute shame because you can tell there are some good action set pieces hidden away under all that ugly mess. There’s a scene where Alice takes on 6 armed Umbrella operatives while hanging upside from a rope. Obviously a silly fight, but it could have potentially looked cool if it hadn’t been chopped to death.
And that’s the thing about this film. It obviously doesn’t take itself seriously, and that’s perfectly fine, but it doesn’t execute on its absurdity either. There aren’t any hilarious over the top characters, the story is pretty boilerplate, and the action is frustrating to watch. There aren’t even any cool death scenes. The film even goes back to one of the coolest scenes in the series, the laser room, and fails to do anything really awesome with it. It’s there and it the scene is okay, but it doesn’t outdo the original. It just feels poorly conceived like many other things in “The Final Chapter.”
If you’ve stuck through all 5 “Resident Evil” films and want to see it through to the end, I know I can’t dissuade you. Go in prepared for the worst and you might leave feeling okay. If for some crazy reason you decide you want to jump into the “Resident Evil” series at this point, please, reconsider and spend your 10 bucks elsewhere. There just isn’t anything about this film that redeems itself.