THE AISLE SEAT - by Mike McGranaghan
"RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER"
I have sat through five previous Resident Evil movies, and I have nothing more than vague memories about any of them. There was the original. One of them took place in the desert. Another one had some cool 3D effects. The last one spent a lot of time flashing back to all the previous entries. That's all I've got. Now comes Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, a film that, you probably won't be surprised to learn, ends with the set-up for another sequel.
Milla Jovovich returns as Alice. She gets word that an antidote for the virus that has turned most of mankind into zombies exists and is hidden away in the bowels of the evil Umbrella Corporation. This revelation means that, in order to save what's left of humanity, she will have to return to Raccoon City. On her way there, she encounters some familiar faces, including Claire (Ali Larter), who join in the mission.
If none of the above makes any sense to you...well, it's kind of a wonder that you're still reading. The Resident Evil series has always been designed to appeal primarily to fans of the videogames on which it is based. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you aren't fully engaged in the concept as a whole, the movies can start to bleed together into one incomprehensible blur. Writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson has always taken the franchise far more seriously than he probably should. You always get a lot of gore and carnage, but not necessarily a lot of fun.
That's certainly the case here. Anderson has an annoying habit of editing his action scenes so rapidly that your eyes often can't decipher what they're looking at. No lie, there are sometimes two or three cuts within the space of a single second in this movie. When you aren't sure what you're seeing, the action has a tendency to become substantially less thrilling.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter spends a lot more time on chaotic fighting than it does on story or character development. While there are some twists on the mythology that's been built over the course of the previous installments, none of them make much impact, given that the characters are so one-dimensional. Milla Jovovich has a lot of charisma onscreen, yet Alice is largely just a generic ass-kicker. It's her sole trait. The other people populating the story are given such little screen time that forgetting they are even there is easy.
Once Alice gets to the Umbrella Corporation, there are a couple mildly amusing moments. The evil company's trademark booby-traps come out in full force. At one point, our heroine and her companions have to dodge a giant turbine. Later, Alice is confronted with one of those laser traps that were integral to the original Resident Evil. Nothing mind-blowing here, although stuff like that at least holds your attention to a degree. The same cannot be said for much else.
When you get right down to it, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter exists solely for those who, for whatever reason, still have an investment in Alice's adventures after five previous movies, or just want to see how things “end.” At my screening, two guys sitting a few rows down from me smoked what appeared to be marijuana throughout the movie. I'm not condoning drug use, but they probably had the right idea.
( 1/2 out of four)
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is rated R for sequences of violence throughout. The running time is 1 hour and 46 minutes.
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