"We're going to kill every last one of them."
To the world of cinema, the word final has a very different meaning to everyone else. If you think it means a franchise is at last ending then you would be very mistaken, just look at ‘Omen: The Final Conflict’, whose very name was made irrelevant with the release of ‘Omen 4’. Then there’s the fourth instalment of the ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ franchise, ‘The Final Nightmare’ which proved to be a short lived finale as ‘New Nightmare’ was released three years later. ‘Friday the 13th’ did this twice with ‘The Final Chapter’ for number four, then ‘The Final Friday’ for number 9, which itself also was not the last chapter as ‘Jason X’ followed shortly (the one where he went to space). But anyway now we have ‘Resident Evil…..6? 7? Whatever: The Final Chapter’.
Picking up three weeks after the events of the previous film, Alice, (Milla Jovovich) awakens in the now-ruined White House, after being betrayed once again by Wesker (Shawn Roberts). Now he is gathering the entire forces of the Umbrella Corporation into one final strike against the apocalypse survivors and it is up to Alice to not only survive the attack but end the threat once and for all.
Modern horror and modern action have a lot of faults, but for the most part I like to believe that each genre is capable of recovering and reaching its full glory once again. But other times I see a film like ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ and I think “No, it’s dead and buried, we’re all doomed”. Paul W S Anderson’s film suffers from every fault it is possible to attribute to the action/horror genre. Whether it be cheap jump scares, shaky-cam, bad lighting substituting for suspense or edits so fast that I wonder if the number of shots is higher than the films frame rate, there is no incompetent cliché or technical error that seems beyond him.
In all honesty what do you really want me to say about this film? If you enjoy the ‘Resident Evil’ movies on a serious level and are genuinely invested in the adventures of Mila Jovovich (I’ve forgotten the character name already) then clearly you don’t care what critics think. It offers what fans of this franchise will have come to expect, but if you are like me and think that what this franchise usually offers is an exercise in cinematic torture then I can’t exactly say I’m thrilled. But for a moment I shall try to treat this film as its own product, as something separate from the other entries in the franchise and break down its strengths and flaws. First up, its strengths…….well that just about does it for strengths.
When making a post-apocalyptic style of movie one key aspect is that you craft interesting or intriguing characters that the audience can either relate to or empathise with as it raises the stakes if you care about the characters who are in immediate danger, and you will hopefully root for them to survive, thereby creating a sense of urgency within the plot. Or you could do what ‘Resident Evil: The Final Chapter’ does and make your characters so boring, so bland, so utterly one dimensional that their breath was the only thing the reminded me that they were in fact real people and not CGI automatons. I understand that as an actor to be given such a character must be difficult, but none of the performers seem to convey even the slightest bit of, anything really.
The story is so mind numbingly predictable and riddled with clichés that it feels unintentionally hilarious. It is the same basic survival story you would find in any movie of this genre (as well as every other instalment of this franchise) but lacking in any singly evocative, unique or interesting element. But despite this it also feels completely incoherent and inconsistent. Character motivations change flip from scene to scene, locations are muddled with one another and the plot holes are rife throughout. I feel as if it would take effort to deliberately write a story as banal and as confusing as this.
But hey, it’s not about the story or characters right? What these movies promise is simple action so surely they deliver on that? Well not really because of Anderson’s uniquely awful direction. Not only are his action scenes derivative of a dozen other superior films from ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ to ‘Aliens’ but they are terribly choreographed and staged. When one throws in the cinematography that looks like the entire film was made in an under-lit studio and shot with a camera that was stuck on the sepia-tone setting it gets even worse. But all of this pales in comparison to the editing, which as ever in this franchise is on another level of horribleness. It was as if the director and editor were each located on entirely different sides of the world and could only communicate through Morse code, once every thirteen months, while limited to a 150 characters each time. It all decends into an incomprehensible mess of noise, random cuts and infuriatingly quick edits that tear the scene apart.
The only good thing that can come out of ‘The Final Chapter’ is if it lives up to its name.