The Reviewinator: Resident Evil – The Final Chapter (2017)

15 years is an impressive run for any franchise, but infinitely more impressive for one like Resident Evil that’s comprised mostly of over-the-top and mind-numbingly ridiculous entries with virtually no sense of narrative consistency whatsoever. And as a fan of the video games, it’s even more infuriating, as each new sequel steers further away from what made the game series popular in the first place. But there’s a guilty-pleasure aspect to at least some of these movies, even if they overstayed their welcome a long time ago. I say “some”, because I am in no way talking about this entry. No way in hell!

The human race is all but extinct from the T-virus infection. Alice (Milla Jovovich) is contacted by the Red Queen (played by her real-life daughter, Ever Anderson) about an airborne anti-virus the Umbrella Corporation developed that could wipe out the global infection. But that means Alice must return to where it all started: the Hive. And it also means the anti-virus will kill anything ever infected by the T-virus, including Alice herself. With 48 hours to global extinction, Alice races what remains of Umbrella to the airborne anti-virus in hopes of finally putting this unrelenting evil in the grave once and for all.

The problem with a worldwide zombie apocalypse is that there’s really no way for the human characters to win. They’ve already lost more than they can recover, so even if they destroy every zombie on Earth, what then? This airborne anti-virus is nothing more than a 15-year-late deus ex machina, an ill-conceived MacGuffin for the good and evil characters to race each other towards. Along the way, Alice bumps into Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), but in typical Resident Evil movie fashion, they exchange only a handful of words and then it’s back to the mindless action. Speaking of action, where the previous entries prided themselves on stylish, colorful, slow-motion sequences that were not at all believable but were at least pleasing to the eye, this entry is more like a Bourne movie with zombies. Lots of shaky-cam close-ups and perhaps the most erratic editing ever committed to film. I’m serious! If the rest of the movie wasn’t so bad, the fast editing alone would ruin it. I saw this movie in 2D, so I can only assume the 3D effects’ impact is massacred by this. It’s so quickly-cut that whenever a character dies, it can be difficult to tell who it was. The development for the new characters is already abysmal at best, so don’t worry about getting attached to anybody. But the grittier, fast-editing style also robs this entry of any of the guilty-pleasure aspects some of the earlier entries had. It’s visually darker, tonally bleak, and overall just less fun; I dare even say realistic (by Resident Evil standards). It takes itself way too seriously way too late in the game, expecting its audience to feel powerful emotions for characters we still don’t really know all that well. The filmmakers were probably more sad to see this franchise end than anyone else was. Why else would they take such an outlandish franchise so seriously during its final hour?

The writing in this franchise has never achieved any level higher than sub-par. Plotlines get dropped, important characters disappear without explanation, and character development is mostly non-existent. Take this movie: there are around 4,000 people left on Earth, and yet the Umbrella Corporation still has an army.(?) At the end of the last movie, Wesker (Shawn Roberts) gave Alice her superpowers back with plans for the two of them working together, but at the beginning of this movie, it’s revealed that it was all a trick to lure her into a trap. But why trick her at all? Why not just kill her yourself? You have superpowers, Wesker! It’s not that hard! Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), who’s suddenly a bible-thumper in this entry, reveals that his deceased character from the third movie was a clone. The reason? The real Dr. Isaacs’ likes clones.(?) This franchise has never had any sense of a cohesive narrative, pulling the rug out from under its audience just when it looks like they’re actually going somewhere. It makes it completely impossible to care about what happens, especially now that they’ve done it multiple times. It doesn’t help that after 6 movies, we still don’t really know who Alice is, only that she can fight. And bringing back a dead villain, and demoting the superhuman Wesker, who has a far more commanding presence not to mention was the lead villain of the previous two entries, to a useless sidekick position? Seriously, Wesker does nothing in this “final chapter”. It’s completely wasted potential in a movie that had very little to begin with.

The Final Chapter title implies that there was an ongoing narrative from beginning to end. Anyone who’s seen the first 5 movies knows that’s the furthest thing from the truth. The final moments still try to tie the last movie into the first one, but it’s an unnecessary character twist that doesn’t have the punch it would have had in a franchise that actually cared about characterization. What we get is a few people in a small room trying to make the end of the end of the world feel epic, but all it does is drag on and on. I was so happy when the credits finally started rolling. With all the rebooted franchises these days, somehow this mediocre-at-best zombie series didn’t know when to die. But they sure as hell killed it with this terrible excuse for a final installment. Now bring on the R.E.-boot!

1 out of 5

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