Video game adaptations are anathema, but that hasn’t stopped the Resident Evil franchise from enduring for 15 years and six films. It’s harder to kill than the resident undead, who continue to overrun the world.
Dynamic duo Milla Jovovich and director husband Paul W.S. Anderson have kept the faith in the franchise despite its inconsistent quality. Indeed, its primary appeal (if you don’t play the game) is watching Jovovich’s kick-ass Alice battling armies of zombies and mutant monsters while being cloned, infected, invested with superpowers and then stripped of them, and waking up at the start of the next film as bewildered as the audience.
This time she awakens in the ruins of Washington D.C. and following a confrontation with a flying dragon-like creature, receives a message from the Red Queen – the childlike AI that controls the evil Umbrella Corporation, who unleashed the T-virus that sent everything to hell. Don’t worry if you haven’t kept up, this one works as both a sequel and a standalone.
The now seemingly benevolent Queen offers Alice a miracle cure – an airborne anti-virus that will eliminate the infected hordes and wipe the slate clean. But to get it, Alice must return to Raccoon City and the subterranean Hive, which is crawling with zombies and monstrous beasts. Unless she releases the anti-virus within 48 hours, what’s left of humanity will perish. And the clock is ticking…
Could this be the end of Evil? Has the Red Queen suffered a computer crisis of conscience, or is it simply a trap to lure Alice to her doom? You may not care, but you won’t be bored.
To say this is the best Resident Evil movie since the Vegas-set third chapter might sound like faint praise, but the series has never aimed too high. It’s relentlessly paced and a couple of game-changing revelations about the nature of the T-virus and Alice herself raise the stakes. And fan favourites like the slice-and-dice laser corridor and those zombie dogs make a return, as do presumed dead characters like Ali Larter’s Claire and the callous Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), who’s the main obstacle between Alice and the cure. But the action scenes, while plentiful and ambitious in scale, are so frenetically edited they’re an incoherent mess.
If this really is The Final Chapter (don’t bet on it) it’s a satisfying conclusion. If not, Sony should seriously consider a merger with its other tenacious horror franchise for Resident Underworld.
In cinemas: January 26, 2017
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ali Larter
Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson