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Dustin Putman

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter  (2017)
1 Star
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson.
Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Shawn Roberts, Eoin Macken, William Levy, Ruby Rose, Rola, Jun-ki Lee, Fraser James, Ever Anderson.
2017 – 106 minutes
Rated: Rated R (for violence).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman for, January 26, 2017.
"Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" follows 2002's "Resident Evil," 2004's "Resident Evil: Apocalypse," 2007's "Resident Evil: Extinction," 2010's "Resident Evil: Afterlife," and 2012's "Resident Evil: Retribution" as the sixth—and if the title is honest—last in the Capcom-adapted zombie film series. One would think a five-year gap between installments would inspire writer-director Paul W.S. Anderson (2014's "Pompeii") to step outside the box, strive to surpass expectations, and make something a little more special than what has gone before. Alas, that was asking too much. This is more of the same to a numbing degree, a ceaselessly dreary, virtually interchangeable installment that doesn't even respect its tireless heroine enough to give her the cathartic send-off she deserves.

Alice (Milla Jovovich) has found herself the sole survivor of a city-wide fight against the undead, one which has left the nation's capital in ashy ruins. A visit from the suspiciously helpful Red Queen (Ever Anderson) reveals there may be an airborne antidote to finally reversing the T-virus outbreak hidden beneath the streets of Raccoon City. With only 48 hours left before the last of humanity is wiped out, Alice begins her trek back to where everything started, in an Umbrella research facility known as The Hive. Along the way, she reunites with Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and her new ragtag group of nondescript warriors.

A preponderance of dark warehouses typifies the creative bankruptcy of "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter," a zombie actioner where the zombies themselves are relegated to cameo appearances in favor of a whole bunch of fights against villainous men in black. If the film is a repetitive visual slog, cooping the characters up for much too long in bleak junkyards and bleaker interiors, it is every bit as disappointing on conceptual and screenwriting levels. All supporting players could not possibly be more generic; they arrive without a single defining trait, dispatched of before we properly know who they are or why we should remotely care about their inevitable eviscerations. Even the returning Claire is badly squandered, disappearing and showing up again at random throughout. Ali Larter (2009's "Obsessed") is predictably wasted—and, in fact, has been for all three of the entries in which she has appeared. If she is given anything resembling a personal arc, it must have been misplaced in the underground shadows of The Hive.

To be fair, an attempt is made to provide Alice a key revelation about her past and true identity, but it is half-hearted at best, lacking the emotional beats to give it proper resonance. These films have always been about gunplay and butt-kicking fight scenes over all else; anyone expecting to be frightened or even in legitimate suspense should definitely stick to the video games. Unfortunately, director Paul W.S. Anderson has not improved one bit in capturing said action. The camerawork by Glen MacPherson (2009's "The Final Destination") is hand-held, erratic, and often too close to the subjects onscreen, while Doobie White's editing is exceedingly choppy, placing a distinct distance between viewers and the frequently incoherent images muddily flashing in front of them. For those hoping for a satisfying third-act battle between human survivors and the raving infected, something worthy of the concluding chapter in a series such as this, keep wishing.

"Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" opens promisingly enough with a deeper dive into the origin of the Red Queen, a holographic little girl representing Umbrella Corporation's supercomputers, then cheats by rejoining with Alice after the bombastic Washington, D.C. showdown merely hinted at in the closing shot of "Resident Evil: Retribution." Anticlimactic before it's even gotten going, the picture avoids opportunities for invention at every turn. Throughout the last fifteen years, Milla Jovovich (2009's "The Fourth Kind") has turned her devotion to the "Resident Evil" property into the cornerstone of her career. It is what she is best known for, and she has amply represented women as a fierce, capable action lead. For all of the good her protagonist has symbolized, Jovovich has consistently deserved better as an actor. Alice is strong, she's tough, she's loyal and resolutely ethical, and she doesn't need saving from the opposite sex. These films have never, however, shown genuine interest in her or her plight; she is a pawn, and nothing but. If "Resident Evil" has closely followed Alice's journey, the junky, forgettable "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" cannot be bothered with her destination, ending in a way that gives her no respite, relief, or hope for a happy future. After a decade and a half of slaying bad guys and evading death, she deserved at least that much.
© 2017 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman

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