After a wait of nearly five years, the final Resident Evil film is here. The series has never been a favourite of critics and this entry is unlikely to change that; however, there is some entertainment to be had here for action fans, particularly those who have followed these films since they burst onto the scene some fifteen years ago.
Milla Jovovich reprises her role as Alice who, after an unsuccessful battle in Washington D.C., makes her way back to Raccoon City where she hopes to find an airborne anti-virus which would destroy the zombies that have ravaged the planet. The formula these films have historically followed is once again applied here, with the introduction of a ragtag group of survivors thrown in between a number of over-the-top action sequences. It isn’t exactly an inspired method of filmmaking, but it’s a tried and tested technique which usually results in a passable feature.
For a film with only a $40 million budget, the smallest for an entry in the series since its 2002 debut, The Final Chapter is able to pull off some ambitious set-pieces. The movie opens with a fight against one of Umbrella’s flying monstrosities which is pulled off rather well, and an explosive motorbike chase proves to be another highlight. Other sequences such as a fist fight on top of an armored tank have some bright moments, but are ultimately hindered by an overuse of shaky-cam and an abundance of quick cuts.
Where the film falters most is in its excessive use of jump-scares. The Resident Evil movies have always relied on these to some extent, but never have they been used this frequently in quick succession. They become something of an annoyance, particularly due to the deafening loudness at which they blare out.
Paul W.S. Anderson continues the habit of disposing major concepts and unresolved plot threads rather heavy-handedly, but still the story of The Final Chapter should prove satisfying to fans of the series in spite of some predictable elements; while this supposedly final film doesn’t completely rule out the idea of further sequels, it does give the story of Alice a satisfying degree of closure.
The supporting characters however aren’t quite so well-handled. Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield is a welcome return, but the new faces she is joined by fail to make an impact. The series has always been wobbly when it comes to character development, but The Final Chapter is possibly one of the weakest entries in that regard. The complete lack of connection with many of the characters rob the film of suspense at certain points, however one particularly grizzly scene involving a wind turbine does elicit some empathy simply due to its nightmarish set-up.
The creature design for a number of new monsters is worthy of some praise, although the directing and often dim lighting doesn’t allow them to be showcased effectively in some instances.
If you haven’t liked the Resident Evil movies in the past, there isn’t anything here which will win you over. However, for those who have enjoyed the unapologetic insanity of the saga to date, this should prove to be another solid entry. Whether this is truly the end for the franchise remains to be seen, but if that were to be the case then this would be a perfectly acceptable swansong.