*. I binge-watched all six of the Resident Evil movies, which may not have been a good idea. I say that for two reasons.
*. First of all, by the time I got to this, the so-called “final chapter” (where have I heard that before?) I felt like I was being bludgeoned into submission. Surely even for fans of this stuff there’s a limit to how much video game action they can take.
*. The second, and perhaps even bigger problem is that when watching all of the movies back-to-back the disruptions in plot continuity became even more glaring. When we last left the franchise, at the end of Resident Evil: Retribution, Alice and her compatriots were standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Wesker on the roof of the White House to take on the forces of evil unleashed by the Umbrella Corporation, which was now being run by the AI Red Queen. Exactly how Wesker had become a good guy wasn’t explained. It seems they just needed him to perform certain plot functions.
*. Well, as things kick off here Wesker is back being a bad guy; Dr. Isaacs, who we thought had been cubed to death back in Resident Evil: Extinction (yes, I had to go and look that up), is back and somehow in charge; and the Red Queen is helping Alice to shut Umbrella down. Meanwhile Ada Wong and Jill Valentine have unaccountably disappeared (apparently Sienna Guillory wasn’t even asked to return) but Claire Redfield is back.
*. In the face of all this narrative chaos I think you just have to throw your hands up and go along for the ride. Characters are indestructible until they aren’t. If Alice firebombs the armored vehicle that Isaacs is riding in we just have to accept that he steps out uninjured. And even if he did die, maybe it would only be a clone or a hologram that got killed (in fact, we later find out that this particular iteration is only “a poor imitation of a worthless copy”). We’re in a fictional environment here where anything is possible.
*. There is some attempt at making sense of what’s gone before. Apparently Umbrella, knowing civilization to be doomed, was trying to effect an “orchestrated apocalypse” that would eliminate the world’s population while allowing the rich and the powerful to ride out Armageddon in cold storage underground. Later, they were to be awakened and inherit the earth, rebooting it in their own image.
*. I didn’t say it was much of an explanation. In fact, it’s only the tissue of background provided behind most video games, just something to give the action sequences a bit of context. If you think a movie, or six movies, should be giving you something more then you’re being too demanding.
*. Suffice it to say that they do try to wrap things up, however messily. Even Alice’s identity is explained at the end, if anyone might still be interested. Personally, I thought that for a finale it ended up being more coherent than I was expecting it to be, so that’s one positive takeaway. With Alice’s sacrifice and achievement of a fuller humanity, however, it’s also more clichéd. And there’s even a coda that suggests this might not, in fact, be the final chapter. Surprise!
*. What’s up with the opening credits? First we get separate screens giving us the fancy logos for Sony’s Screen Gems, Impact Pictures, Davis Films, and Constantin Film. We then get a title screen that tells us that Screen Gems, Davis Films and Constantin Film present (on yet another screen) a Constantin Film, Davis Films and Impact Pictures production. I think we get it.
*. I’ve said that I found something enjoyable in the earlier films. That may, however, just show how old I’m getting. Resident Evil and Resident Evil: Apocalypse both struck me as retro ’80s SF, while Resident Evil: Extinction was more just a zombie flick. As the series went on though it became even more like a video game, which is a style of filmmaking I can’t stand. To take just one example, they use a ton of flash editing to conceal the fact that the action scenes are no good. A fight scene with a cut every second, or three or four cuts every second, isn’t really a fight scene in my book. But I guess it plays well with the twitch crowd.
*. That may sound overly dismissive of fans of this franchise, but I’m honestly confused as to the appeal of these movies. Alice is the only character. Everyone else is just a prop introduced to perform some plot function and then be disposed of. At least for a while. What was Ada Wong’s purpose, aside from marketing to an Asia audience? Meanwhile, there is no coherent story developed. So all that leaves is fight scenes and special effects. But the fight scenes are crap and the CGI ranges from garbage to average (at best). So who watches this stuff?
*. For what it’s worth, I liked this one a little more than Resident Evil: Retribution, but still found it to be a noisy mess. It did, however, make a ton of money and capped (for now) what has been billed as the highest-grossing horror franchise in film history. That would seem to guarantee that there will be more on the way. I’m checking out now though because I’ve had enough.