Oh my goodness; it’s difficult to determine where to start. This is a terrible movie, and a terrible sequel. It’d be an effort to watch if it didn’t follow six other films and end the series, but it’s downright painful if you’ve seen the other movies.
The Final Chapter begins a few weeks after the events of Retribution. That film ended with Alice, our protagonist, being injected with the “T-Virus”, restoring all of her superhuman abilities, before observing hordes of zombies slowly walking towards the White House. I mention their speed because in this film they can run. And by run I mean keep pace with a motorcycle. Of course, you never actually see this because this film despises establishing shots. What we see is a tank keeping pace with a motorcycle attempting to flee from it, and then a shot of the zombies keeping up with the back of the tank. You can blame the editing, the writing, the directing, doesn’t really matter. It’s just silly. They walk at normal, zombie-like speed in most other scenes, occasionally running when we need a jump-scare… and the jump-scares are pretty much the only thing this movie has going for it. It made me jump two or three times, which, I must admit, is more than most horrors. The cleverness of the sound design was enough to jolt me out of my boredom for a few minutes at a time.
So this film has Alice away from Washington and her friends with very little explanation. All we’re told is that the man who restored her powers at the end of the last film betrayed them all and took her powers away. Yeah, you read that right. He restored her powers in the very last scene of the last film, and then took them back again between the end-credits of that one and the opening credits of this one. I had to rewatch the final scene of the last one just to make sure it actually was as stupid as I believed. And a previously established antagonist is suddenly a religious fanatic, which is completely new and not at all part of his character in any of the preceding films.
It also entirely rewrites what we learnt in the second film, Apocalypse. So in that movie, we meet Charles Ashford, the man who created the T-Virus to save his daughter, Angela, from a life in a wheelchair. Angela also serves as the template for the Red Queen, an artificial intelligence. In The Final Chapter, we meet James Marcus, who looks absolutely nothing like Charles Ashford but apparently created the T-Virus to save his daughter, Alicia. We also discover that Alicia served as the template for the Red Queen. The facts established in Apocalypse are entirely contradicted. It’s mind-boggling. It’s absolutely incredible, especially considering they were both written by the same man.
Even ignoring all plot-holes and inconsistencies, we still don’t have a very good script. The dialogue is awful, and Milla Jovovich is the only member of the cast who manages to deliver it with any sort of elegance. The plot isn’t much better, with all manner of silliness and illogic. A man named Wesker is tasked with preventing Alice from reaching a T-Antivirus, with which she means to save the world, by any means necessary. So he sets dogs upon her as she approaches the facility. After she gets past them and enters, he seals the doors. Then he turns industrial fans on in an attempt to slice her and her friends into pieces. After one dies, he turns them off and they progress to the next obstacle… and at any time he could maybe, you know, destroy the antivirus. We’re never given any reason why he couldn’t just do that.
The camera-work is headache-inducing. There are so many cuts going on that you can’t tell what’s going on. The principle behind cutting so quickly in an action sequence is to give a sense of chaos, of loss of control… but this was happening in casual conversation as well as action sequences. Five people would be talking and we get what feels like twenty close-ups of faces within fifteen seconds, without even getting an establishing shot to see where each person is standing. The editing makes it incredibly hard to watch, and a lot of it is pointless. During a fight sequence, two characters grapple before pulling apart, and one character reveals a grenade-pin in her hand. The other character clutches his coat pocket. He then explodes… but not before we get a flashback sequence of her planting the grenade in his pocket. It lacks any purpose.
Even outside of specific sequences the film is edited poorly; we see a shot of a character waking up from unconsciousness, followed by a shot of two men talking in another room, followed by a shot of the first character breaking free from her cell… before the camera pans to one of the two men hiding from her. Teleportation spell, maybe?
The Final Chapter’s only redeeming qualities are Jovovich’s performance and the diagetic sound. The most disappointing element of all this is that I actually liked the first Resident Evil. It’s probably the best film to be based upon a video-game, though the bar isn’t very high on that one.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is in cinemas now.