The Resident Evil movies don’t enjoy the best critical reputation, and there is a good reason for that, as anyone who sat through Apocalypse will tell you. That being said, if you’ve got any enjoyment out of the previous five films at all, then you should definitely head to the cinema to catch The Final Chapter on the big screen.
There is a real sense that Paul WS Anderson is determined to end his series with a bang, and he does. It’s still an overblown, cheesy pick-n-mix of homages/lifts, one-liners and slow-motion fight sequences, but there’s an energy and invention here that’s been lacking in the past.
There’s barely any world left at this point, but Umbrella’s killer AI The Red Queen (Ever Anderson) tells Alice (Milla Jovovich) that there is an antivirus that could fix everything. The catch is that it’s back in the Racoon City underground facility The Hive, and that she’s only got 48 hours to release it. Can Alice get to it in time, survive the oncoming monsters and dodge the villainous, apparently-not-dead Dr Isaacs (Iain Glen)?
After five films, Anderson knows what fans want to see and he knows what works. There’s the Mad Max-style blasted apocalyptic cities and deserts, several “Alice vs impossibly huge monster” set-pieces, and a subterranean lair filled with ghouls and devilish traps, including the return of the franchise’s high point: the laser grid.
The script is patchy but Jovovich has always given Alice a grim conviction and wit to go with the ass-kicking, and the film is helped enormously by the return of Iain Glen as the malevolent Dr Isaacs (now a Bible-bashing lunatic roving the desert in a giant tank, which is wonderful). It’s just as well that he chews the scenery with such gleeful conviction because the rest of the cast (including Ali Larter’s returning Claire Redfield and Orange Is The New Black’s Ruby Rose) don’t make much of an impact.
To call The Final Chapter the best Resident Evil since the original is definitely damning it with faint praise, but the B-movie thrills on offer here are solid. The action, the fights, the jump scares…they’re all entertaining, and there’s a long-serving genre heroine who’s finally allowed some evolution and a bit of closure. It’s flawed, sure, but if you’re looking for some genre fun to add a bit of joy to your February, this will get the job done.