Way to go out on a whimper. You may be aware but I’ve been championing this franchise for years. I’m mindful of its stupidity and simplicity as a horror video game adaptation which means plots are mission based, characters are one dimensional and its full of gun play and roundhouse kicks. I’ve found their self-seriousness enjoyable for all these years as Milla Jovovich continually proves she’s a capable and charismatic action star as she carries the weight of the series on her shoulders. In each film, there’s always been a set piece to enjoy scored with intensity to make you feel like you’re watching something amazing. I uphold the belief that the films have improved with technology and increased budgets as Afterlife and Retribution are the most cohesive with Anderson back at the directing helm and visually stunning thanks to improved special effects. Yet Final Chapter crashes and burns as it retcons so much set up from the past five films making this nearly stand-alone installment that is also one of the most poorly directed and edited films I’ve ever experienced.
Where most Resident Evil films kick off with your old pal Alice recapping the loose arc of the previous movies including the zombie outbreak and the maniacal Umbrella corporation, Final Chapter adds this backstory to the Red Queen, the child hologram antagonist of the first film. Her lengthy setup plus random zombie attack on a snow mountain vacation leads us to present day Alice, alone, in the ruins of Washington DC. This was the first red flag as Retribution’s grand finale was a blockade of characters from the video games who’ve weaved themselves into the franchise (Claire Redfield, Albert Wesker, Ada Wong, Leon Kennedy) all about to have this epic last stand against a legion of zombies and flying dragon monsters. We are not privy to whatever occurred immediately after the credits rolled except for Alice’s passing mention that Wesker betrayed her in Washington. So first we’re robbed of the most exciting of cliff hangers. I had not yet closed the door that this movie could win me back. I had seen the trailer and at least knew there was a pay off on the aforementioned dragons but as Alice’s opening fight scene kicks off, it was all downhill.
I would call this movie nearly unwatchable as it is overedited making it incomprehensible and headache inducing. I don’t know if I put this on Anderson who made this radical stylistic shift or changing editors from Niven Howie to Doobie White who is no stranger to the high energy action genre with previous credits including Gamer and Crank 2. Whoever is to blame, someone opted to never have a steady shot instead opting for fast, choppy cuts. I would have loved to have enjoyed Alice battle dragons, triple sized mutant dogs and hulked out zombies but I never could get a good look at anything. Split second cut to’s of Alice’s face, then the weapon, then the vehicle she’s in then the attacker all in a blink of an eye and to structure every fight scene as such was nauseating. Let me see the creatures, that’s what I’m here for!
Once the aspect I appreciate the most in this series is eliminated, that being bad ass action sequences, I’m stuck with the garbage plot that I often try not to think about because the writer doesn’t seem to either. It’s so insignificant as a wrap to what is mostly a nonexistent storyline which is why the need for the accessive prologue because the movies are primarily a “get from point A to point B” scenario. Don’t worry, that still happens here when the Red Queen informs Alice she must get to the Hive in Raccoon City to get the airborne anti-virus that will put and end to the zombie mayhem, but the return of formally dead evil scientist Dr. Isaacs, return to evil Wesker and more clones left me exhausted and bored as Jovovich herself seemed over the arduous exposition. The plot is lazy, the added characters are lazy as they’re given no development, only there for a body count (sorry Ruby Rose) and the filmmaking does it no favors.
It’s sad to see it end like this. Before the screening began there was an unconventional “thank you” video from Jovovich and Anderson stating how much they appreciate the fan support over the 15 years of this series run. I’ve been one of those fans and if they had replicated what they were setting up with Retribution I would have been pleased and even a little sad to see this long-running guilty pleasure being put to rest. Instead, I’m left frustrated that I sat through 90 minutes of something unrecognizable and unwatchable. Maybe this stemmed from a filming marred with problems (one stunt actor maimed and a crew member killed) or that this was thrown together knowing it wouldn’t matter what profit it turned being it’s the last entry but my sorely disappointed state leaves a stain on my memory this franchise, especially after I dragged my boyfriend into this. Resident Evil why have you forsaken me?