Review: Alice Returns in ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’

Because their director, Paul W. S. Anderson, is an exceptional talent in action cinema, and because their star, Milla Jovovich, is a charismatic, exceptional and very credibly kinetic action performer, the movies in the “Resident Evil” franchise, of which this is the sixth, have always been a terrific time. Provided you like that sort of thing — that sort of thing being post-apocalyptic and necessarily grim sci-fi mayhem adapted from a popular, genre-mashing video game.

In “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter,” Ms. Jovovich’s Alice, a virally superpowered avenger on behalf of a highly diminished human population, is assisted by her onetime nemesis the Red Queen, an artificial intelligence program that takes the holographic form of a young girl. Deep in “the Hive” of Raccoon City, where all the “Resident Evil” trouble began, is a vial that can save humanity. A time-sensitive gauntlet is laid down, and the never-ending action begins.

There’s some really hair-raising stuff here, including a rain-of-fire set piece for which Mr. Anderson’s last film, “Pompeii,” might have served as a kind of dress rehearsal. Among Alice’s foes are hordes of flesh-eating undead, and it’s to Mr. Anderson’s credit that even in a pop culture glutted with postmodern zombies, he can make his creatures startle viewers. But the blindingly fast cuts and the inflated reprises of the franchise’s greatest hits — the startling undead Dobermans of the first film are back — yield diminishing returns. This is, I think, the weakest picture in the franchise.

Nevertheless, the movie percolates enough that even when, at its climax, it shamelessly recycles a grisly punch line from 1987’s “RoboCop,” it’s kind of endearing, not least because Mr. Anderson and company make it work.

Alice, get your gun: Milla Jovovich faces the advancing hordes in “Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.” Credit Ilze Kitshoff/Sony Pictures Releasing


[Review] ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ is a Proper Send-off to the Series

Fifteen years, six movies, and millions of zombies later, the Umbrella Corporation still can’t bring Alice down, no matter what they throw at her. No matter what tactics they use or who they send after Alice, a.k.a. their rogue ex-agent out for revenge, she always manages to outsmart and outmaneuver them. She’s always left standing in the end. That is, until now.

It’s been a long, hard journey since the day when Alice first woke up in that mansion, naked, naïve, and amnesia-ridden. She’s met many good comrades along the way, and watched many of them die. She’s gone up against immeasurable odds time and time again, and always prevailed. She’s been experimented on, learned the truth about the origin of the T-virus, exterminated more members of the undead than she can count, and even survived a nuclear blast. She’s seen the worst that humanity has to offer, and yet, she still finds something in them that’s worth fighting for. Alice may not be the hero of the apocalypse that we deserve, but she is certainly the one that we need, as her martyr message becomes more poignant than ever before, in the best entry in the franchise since the original, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

In the sixth and final installment in the series, Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakens to find herself in a desolate land, and as she crawls out from under her pile of rubble, stands to witness the chaos around her. The world is in ruins. Abandoned buildings riddled with gaping holes, soot stained smoke pouring out into the sky from every which direction, and not another living soul in sight – that is, if you’re not counting the wicked winged creature flying toward her at this very moment.

It may seem daunting to have what would essentially pass as a post-apocalyptic dragon soaring towards you, claws outstretched in your direction, but Alice has bigger things to worry about. In a strange twist of events, The Red Queen is suddenly claiming that she is now an adversary to Alice, and that she can help her stop the infection once and for all. Alice isn’t quite sure that she can trust her old arch nemesis, but with only a handful of friends left on her side and the clock counting down to the complete and total annihilation of the human race, she doesn’t have much of a choice but to put her faith in the very same holographic avatar that led her down the valley of death so many times before.

The Red Queen tells Alice to head to Raccoon City, and to hurry, for she only has a few hours left to stop the spread of the infection for good, and finally save the world. Upon her return to her old stomping grounds, Alice meets up with an old ally, Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) makes a few new ones along the way, including Abigail (Ruby Rose), Doc Macken (Eoin Macken) and Christian (William Levy), and even runs into a few old enemies as well, such as Wesker (Shawn Roberts) and Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen). But will her trip down memory lane lead her to the wipeout of the plague? Only time will tell if Alice can fulfill her destiny as savior of the world, and save humanity from total extinction.

Kudos to director Paul W. S. Anderson for choosing to shoot in South Africa for the final movie. This film is a big deal, and the landscapes he chose are very indicative of the impact of this long awaited finale. In one scene, a three-mile-long stretch of disused highway allows for the shooting of an epic scene where Alice is being dragged by chains behind the back of a massive tank, while she is also simultaneously being chased by a ginormous horde of zombies, nipping at her heels as she runs for her life. In another, she reunites with her right hand man Claire Redfield, whom she spots with Claire’s new posse perched high up above Raccoon City in their gaunt towering lookout spot. This stunning piece of architecture is actually an abandoned tower block in Ponty City, Johannesburg, a once elite area that’s now run over by gangs, giving it a look that fits in perfect with the end times aesthetic that director Anderson is trying to sell: both grand and decayed. The Final Chapter is at its best when its making good use of its locations.

However, it starts to suffer slightly once Alice enters the Hive. While its quick pacing and rapid body count keep the action feeling fresh and daring, some of the excitement becomes sacrificed in favor of lengthy dialogue when it comes time to officially tie up all loose ends. It’s a very satisfying ending, with some truly shocking twists and turns that manage to both wrap up the ending in a way that feels rewarding to viewers who have kept watching over the past fifteen years. However, at the same time, while its understandable that the final moments are kept contained to a few key characters for a special ‘members only’, arguably more significant ending, it is a little disappointing that there isn’t a bigger battle. If this really is the end, it would’ve been nice to truly see the series go out with a bang, instead of a less rough, more emotional whimper that it chooses instead.

Although the franchise could’ve ended with a bit more gusto, The Final Chapter still packs quite a punch, and manages to be both satisfying for die hard fans, while still entertaining everyday movie goers who are just looking for a few hours away from reality. The decision to make this final film a return to the first is an intention that seeps into every aspect of the movie, from the grittier locations, to the more human, powers-stripped-away Alice, to the darker palettes, and it plays well. For a person who has never really been a huge fan of this series, this is definitely, objectively, one of the better installments, if not the best one since the original. Basically, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is hella fun, a proper send-off to the series, and most importantly, shows that Milla Jovovich still kicks all kinds of ass, and can lead a successful franchise all by herself, no man needed to pick up the slack. There’s no one out there quite like Alice, and if this really is the end, she will be dearly missed.


Resident Evil: The Last Chapter Review

At one point in Resident Evil: The Last Chapter, Alice (Milla Jovovich) expresses the feeling that the entirety of her life has involved nothing but running and killing. That's also an apt description for the entirety of this film.

The Last Chapter is the sixth instalment in the Resident Evil film series, which continues its focus on Alice, an ex-security officer for the Umbrella Corporation, who turns against her former employer and is determined to bring it down. The Last Chapter picks up where the previous film, Retribution, ends, and although it provides a substantial recap of the events from the previous films, it does leave out smaller details that become relevant later on. So, if you aren't already familiar with the film or even the games, the appearance of minor characters and creatures may well be confusing.

The first half of the film is characterised by action scenes and jump scares as Alice fights to survive, and after discovering a new goal, to reach a destination in order to try and save what's left of humanity. But though the premise for a lot of the combat and action chases are interesting, watching them play out on screen is incredibly taxing. The Last Chapter favours extreme close-ups of impacts, monster faces, and bodily clashes, and marries them with exceptionally frantic editing. Shots of the action flash for a second at most, as if the scenes were being cut to the beat of a drumroll. Your eyes never have time to completely register a shot before having to process the next one--it's almost as if you're being brainwashed with flashing images of people getting punched, and that hurts.

And with so much distance for Alice to cover, the transition for each encounter is often quick and blunt: literally and figuratively. Although Alice is undoubtedly a resourceful and skilled hero, these transitions also paint her as incredibly unobservant. Scenes will end with Alice getting taken out by something that appears out of thin air, before waking up in another location and in the middle of another sticky situation. Similarly, jump scares aren't as effective as they could be because there's no suspense. They'll shock you with sudden, loud, and unexpected noises before you actually get to see or understand what the threat is. Without any kind of preceding tension, the scares feel random and undeserved.

Alice eventually meets up with a group of survivors made up of new and returning characters, and they're ushered into taking part in a huge, bombastic guerilla clash. Taking some queues from the Mad Max series with makeshift, post-apocalyptic defences, this conflict is fun to watch overall, but in quickly introducing a number of new faces into the mix it makes the smaller skirmishes much harder to follow. It's difficult to figure out who's doing what, who just died, and whether the current person on-screen was referred to by name yet or not.

Things improve markedly in the third act, where The Last Chapter's tone takes a couple of fortunate turns. The group find themselves in an eerie, enclosed labyrinth, which provides some genuinely tense, edge-of your seat moments. Thankfully, the film slows down and takes more time to let you drink in the atmosphere of its settings. Being able to anticipate the what and when of the next big moment is a stark improvement to the beginning of the film. This is also where The Last Chapter starts letting go; relaxing into its own campiness, adding a welcome dash of levity to its thrills. Lines get a little cheesier, knife twirls get a little more flamboyant, and the comic-book villains provide some chuckle-worthy moments.

The one thing that is consistent throughout the film though, is Milla Jovovich's portrayal as Alice. Although the character is one-dimensional, especially if you watch The Last Chapter in isolation, it's hard not to enjoy Jovovich's strong action-hero charisma as she tears through the film's hurdles. You empathize with her when she gets knocked down, and cheer for her when she pulls through. Alice comes off as smart, confident, and cunning, and she carries herself in a way that makes it easy to root for her.

Resident Evil: The Last Chapter has numerous flaws, the most significant of which are its frantically-edited action scenes, but Milla Jovovich remains a likeable hero who is enjoyable to follow. When the film eventually settles down and finds a more suitable skin for itself towards the end, it becomes a little more palatable, a little more fun, and at the very least, will leave you with a few memorable moments.

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