Movie Review - Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
By Ben Gruchow
January 31, 2017
Regardless, the scene is monumental in its silliness and gaps in logic, and I spent two paragraphs describing it because it provides a lovely microcosm of almost everything that is wrong with this movie. Set pieces are arranged around the needs of whatever sequence happens to be playing (why on Earth would none of these supposedly seasoned warriors wonder if perhaps there was an alternative entrance to the Hive? Did Umbrella security shut down the fan each morning to allow temps and biochemists access to their work? What happened to the train tunnel from the first film?); characters behave in colossally stupid ways, and the movie would somehow allow us to believe that the default setting for a giant industrial ventilation system is “gentle breeze” in one direction, and “murderous gale” in the other. When a minor character is offed, the filmmakers somehow believed there was enough empathy inherent in their screenplay to begin issuing stirring orchestral music. The failure of this as a narrative device is cringe-inducing to witness. Scene cuts occur without crucial intermediate action.
It does at least have semi-legible action choreography and camerawork, which provides the sole bright spot apart from the opening. As for the rest…forget it. There are entire chunks of this film that I know I saw and yet don't remember a single image or shot from, because the camera is always jaggedly moving, zooming, cutting, running, shaking. One angle on an action won't do if six different angles of the same action are possible. If there is ever a moment of silence, we know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it will be broken within seconds with a deafeningly loud roar or crash or clatter.
The most frustrating aspect here is what could have been. No, I do not think that the Resident Evil films are particularly “good,” but this does not mean I think they're without merits. In this final film, Anderson makes use of two narrative developments that could have been kind of terrific. There is the final explanation for and justification as to why Umbrella seems so committed to killing everything. You don't really need to know the rationale; cueing up Donald Trump's inaugural address on YouTube will cover much the same territory. And the final developments, involving unexpected ancestry and questions of memory and loss and identity (as well as truly bad age makeup and acting), have the bones of effective cinema in them.
The penultimate moments are the type that the mind tends to reflect on a little more fondly as the days pass. In the moment, all I could think of was how useless the whole thing ultimately was and how little I could remember of the film I just saw. I wanted this to succeed, and since the "last chapter" does indeed leave the door open for another damned sequel in this series, I can hold out hope for a potentially superior conclusion down the road. This one is dead on arrival.
0.5 / 5