Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Premise: The sixth and presumably final installment of the film series based on the video game. Alice (Milla Jovovich) must travel back to The Hive research facility in Raccoon City for a cure to the virus that has turned the world into a wasteland overrun by the undead.
What Works: The Resident Evil film series has been active for fifteen years and in that time it has elbowed a place for itself and accumulated a fan base. The Final Chapter has been made with the fans in mind and Resident Evil enthusiasts ought to enjoy it. It delivers the same kind of action and scares that fans have come to expect but it’s all done a little better in this final instalment. Some of the previous Resident Evil pictures suffered from being too video game like; all of the movies used digital effects but some of the films had a cartoonish look. The creatures and the settings of The Final Chapter have a grittier and more physical appearance than some of the digital monsters and landscapes of other Resident Evil films. The Final Chapter also distinguishes itself by linking to the other entries in the series. Fans who sat through the previous instalments are rewarded with callbacks to earlier Resident Evil pictures, especially the first two, and the film gives the series a sense of closure as it brings together the key characters of the series. There are a few late reveals that give the film some gravitas, at least as much as this series can bear. One of the reasons why the Resident Evil series has survived as long as it has is due to its sense of fun. These movies are shlock but they are also—for the most part—entertaining. This is B-movie fun and filmmaker Paul W.S. Anderson has clearly tried to give fans their money’s worth. The Final Chapter mostly succeeds at that.
What Doesn’t: The Resident Evil series hasn’t been constructed with the same regard for continuity as the Dark Knight trilogy or the Star Wars saga. Most of these films were self-contained outings that ended with cliffhangers that were not necessarily resolved in the following installment. That is especially true in The Final Chapter; the previous Resident Evil adventure ended with the start of a siege on Washington D.C. but this movie skips over that to pick up after the battle. Perhaps that was done for budgetary reasons or for the sake of the running time, but the lack of continuity between films is indicative of a broader problem with the Resident Evil series and this title in particular. Because there was very little on-going story development and few recurring characters, The Final Chapter does not come to much of a conclusion. The series isn’t building toward a climax. The Final Chapter is mostly more of the same with Alice leading a group of survivors against the undead and foiling the evil plans of the Umbrella Corporation. The new characters don’t even rise to the level of stereotypes and most of the returning cast isn’t that interesting either. The conflict ultimately comes down to a fist fight between Alice and Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen), a villain who has supposedly masterminded all of this chaos but hasn’t been seen since Resident Evil: Extinction, the third film in the series which was released ten years ago. The filmmakers attempt to pull the series together by introducing a backstory that comes out of nowhere and the effort to elevate the stakes feels slapped together. Alice is told that the last human outposts will fall in forty-eight hours; we’re not shown these places or people and the countdown is an arbitrary device to concoct suspense. When The Final Chapter does finally reach its end, the solution is absurd even for a Resident Evil film. As the climax of a series that has gone on for six films over fifteen years, the movie is underwhelming and doesn’t deliver much more than any other Resident Evil film.
Bottom Line: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter finishes off the series by fulfilling the minimum expectations. It is unlikely to appeal to anyone other than the fans who have stuck with the series this long and it is fun on its own absurd terms. But The Final Chapter is little more than just another Resident Evil film.
Episode: #634 (February 12, 2017)