Review - 'Resident Evil: The Final Chapter'
Apparently this is it; the last Resident Evil film, but let's be honest, if this movie ends up making a hefty profit there will be more Alice adventures down the road. With that said, the latest movie in the six-film franchise does have a feeling of finality to it even if the conclusion is still pretty open-ended.
Paul W. S. Anderson's Resident Evil: The Final Chapter follows just after the last film, Retribution. Alice (Milla Jovovich) climbs from the rubble as the sole survivor after her team is betrayed by Wesker (Shawn Roberts). While she searches for answers she is captured by Isaacs (Iain Glen), after a fight she escapes and comes across a group of survivors which is headed by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). Together they search for the cure to the T-virus while a clock ticks towards the end of humanity.
At this point in the franchise you're either in or you're out. If you haven't seen a Resident Evil film before I don't recommend starting here, even though there's a lengthy recap of what has happened in the previous films prefacing the movie. Before I dive in I'm just going to come out there and say that I'm part of the "in" crowd. I enjoy the campy, claustrophobic action-horror of the first film, the Mad Max-inspired adventurousness of Extinction, and the bat-sh*t insane everything-and-the-kitchen-sink thrills of Retribution. The Final Chapter isn't quite as fun as those three films I listed, but it's definitely better than the lackluster second and fourth entries; Apocalypse and Afterlife.
Despite plenty of bumps in the road, this is the first Resident Evil film where I felt invested in the story. I'm not saying the script is in any way great (it's not), but I could tell that this entry had a direction and it was sticking with it. Alice actually has a character arc that's more interesting, even if plot strands from previous films are seemingly abandoned or ignored. There's a propulsive nature to this film that has you anticipating what's next whether it be a massive winged beast, zombie dogs, death-dealing traps or perhaps a hulking undead ogre.
Milla Jovovich is also in top form here. Her performances seem to get progressively better from film to film and she's really morphed into a hero that I enjoy rooting for. It also doesn't hurt that Game of Thrones star, Iain Glen is Alice's main adversary. Even if this is just a paycheck movie for him he gives it his all and he's a delight to watch as he chews the scenery with reckless abandon. The rest of the cast doesn't register anything on an emotional level, including Ali Larter as Claire Redfield. Most of them are cannon-fodder and I couldn't tell you one from the other.
My problems with The Final Chapter arise mostly from how the action is shot. The camera work here is fast and frenetic with an abundance of quick-cuts, and while it's still pretty easy to discern what is happening, it can sometimes be an unnecessary strain on the eyes. I could tell that some of the choreography was excellent and I just wanted the camera to sit still so I could see it in all of its bloody glory. At least the filmmakers look to have have put more money towards making all of its creatures look more realistic and frightening, even if there's an excessive amount of cheap jump-scares.
I also took issue with the uneven tone of the film. Retribution played like an insane zombie-filled cartoon, while The Final Chapter is a lot more dour and "serious". There are times, especially towards the end where it gets goofier, and it made me wish the film had committed to its original tone or just decided to continue the ridiculousness of its predecessor.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, while far from perfect, is a fitting end to this long-running series. While I wish I could have seen the action better and that it had adhered more to the continuity of the previous films, it is still a reasonably satisfying trip to the movies if you know what you're getting into.