I made a mistake: I went and saw “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” having only seen the original film and its two successors, “Apocalypse” and “Extinction”, which you’d think couldn’t get any more final-sounding. Apparently a lot happened in “Afterlife” and “Retribution”, but I have a feeling that seeing this movie would’ve been a mistake regardless. These last two installments marked the return of Paul W.S. Anderson to the director’s chair, and he’s stayed the course for the series’ purported conclusion, in which his wife and franchise mainstay Milla Jovovich re-reprises her role as soldier-by-necessity Alice.
Alice was the guinea pig for something called the T-virus, an experimental cure for all diseases incurable, designed by the Umbrella Corporation (a friendly logo that immediately evokes Biohazard). While its side-effects quickly rendered the majority of the population undead, Alice developed super strength and heightened abilities. At least for a while. Fast forward fifteen years—only ten in movie time—and Alice is emerging from the ashes of a big showdown in Washington, DC. One dance with a winged serpent establishes that Jovovich is back to the physical limitations of being human, but with the endurance of an Olympian. You try taking out a dragon with a claymore mine whilst driving.
Alice’s backstory has expanded, though Jovovich’s dialogue has not (Anderson also wrote). Her genesis involves returning villain Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), perfectly sinister but super silly in this context (unlike his brilliant and complex “Game of Thrones” character). The whole epidemic was inspired by the Good Book, shows exposition; Isaacs brings the Bible to a board meeting and references Noah’s Ark. Except with a calculated extermination, the rich and powerful can wait out the carnage in the safety of their underground quarters instead of on a boat with a bunch of wild animals.
Okay, back to the present. Alice is informed by the Red Queen, a computer program simulating the look and sound of a young girl/T-Virus prototype, that there is an anti-virus and that she has 48 hours to release it or the 4,000 some remaining humans on the planet will be dead. Finally, the solution we’ve been waiting for! This airborne antidote is located in Raccoon City, in The Hive, the underground lab where it all began. But wait, why the betrayal? Don’t worry, there’s an explanation that took a ton of box office dollars to get to. The trek home gets off to a rough start, but luckily the randomly placed paramilitary goons she encounters have trouble figuring out how to shoot her with their fully-automatic weapons while she’s strung up by her feet. No matter.
Skipping past an armored tank scene, Alice is reunited with a group of survivors including Claire (Ali Larter) and budding star Ruby Rose, who is currently in a much better movie called “xXx: Return of Xander Cage”. There are lots of I thought you were deads, yadda yadda, as they hide out precariously a top the tallest most structurally compromised building in town. Incoming! The hordes of undead are an afterthought, as the bad guys fight the good guys, and I really wish it were that simple. The trouble is when Anderson actually tries to get creative, and though there are some neat pyro-technics and great work from DP Glen MacPherson, “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter” becomes so incoherent that when the lights come on in one scene, I was looking at characters I thought had already been killed. More discouraging is that this movie might not make good on the promise of its title.
—M. Parsons 2017