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"RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER"
(2017) (Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen) (R)


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QUICK TAKE:
Action: In a world where a virus has wiped out most of the Earth's population, transformed many of the survivors into zombies, and given rise to all sorts of mutated creatures, a ragtag group of survivors mounts a final stand.
PLOT:
The film begins with Alice (MILLA JOVOVICH) walking around the ruins of a post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., and evading various zombie and creature threats. She is contacted via hologram by the Red Queen (EVER ANDERSON), who tells her that the remnants of humanity are about to be wiped out in 48 hours. But she has once chance to save them if she can get to what's left of Raccoon City, infiltrate the underground Hive, and release an anti-virus developed by the all-powerful Umbrella Corporation.

Along the way, she runs afoul of the evil Dr. Alexander Isaacs (IAIN GLEN), who is leading thousands of zombies to Raccoon City to wipe out a pocket of rebels. He remains in league with the enigmatic Wesker (SHAWN ROBERTS), who is holed up in The Hive and eager to eradicate what's left of the survivors.

Alice fights her way to the city where she teams up with her old friend and ally, Claire (ALI LARTER), and a group of ragtag rebels led by Doc (EOIN MACKEN). Their group also includes such fighters as Razor (FRASER JAMES), Christian (WILLIAM LEVY), and Abigail (RUBY ROSE) who slowly trust Alice and vow to help her find the anti-virus and turn the tables on the Umbrella company and the undead infesting what's left of the Earth.

OUR TAKE: 4 out of 10
You wanna know the worst thing about "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter?" It may not actually be THE final chapter! No, seriously, dear readers. The film ends with a couple of scenes and some snippets of dialogue that clearly set the stage for "Resident Evil: A New Threat" or "Resident Evil: The Virus Awakens" or "Resident Evil: Psych! We Were Just Kidding!"

But, really, enough is enough. This is a series that has essentially been spinning its wheels since the second one. I'll acknowledge that this sixth film finally has a sense of urgency, basically because there is a ticking clock device employed throughout ... a countdown to final annihilation. Milla Jovovich's amnesiac warrior rebel has to get from post-apocalyptic Washington, D.C., back to Raccoon City (dumbest horror-thriller town name ever, by the way) where the evil Umbrella Corporation that unleashed a virus on the Earth and wiped out most of humanity years earlier was headquartered. Of course, not only was mankind felled by the virus, but it also created hordes and hordes of undead zombies in search of the "Walking Dead" set and resulted in monstrous, mutated creatures stalking the ruins of our doomed civilization.

Alice has to navigate through all of this, plus team up with a band of misfit rebels to infiltrate The Hive -- Umbrella's secret underground research facility -- where she has been told an anti-virus exists that can bring the world back from the brink. This is all information and plot developments that could have happened at least three movies ago. But for those without franchise fatigue, you're likely going to get into this one.

As a lover of good cinema, though, I can't quite sign off on it. I will say the action is, for the most part, well-choreographed and some of the special effects sequences are pretty impressive. Jovovich remains in absurdly tip-top shape and can still execute a fight scene with brutal, balletic force and grace. She's much more believable holding her own against dudes twice her size and creatures three times her size than, say, Scarlett Johansson who I've always found a bit laughable as Black Widow. Does the film take a bit too much glee in beating the hell out of women throughout? Hey, we're six films in? Why start the petition now.

The villain, Iain Glen's utterly remorseless Dr. Alexander Isaacs, is also quite good. He's so dastardly that the film gets you to a point very early on where we REALLY want to see Isaacs die and die horribly. Glen sort of looks like Bryan Cranston having a very bad hangover day, but he brings some of the same ice-cold, "humanity is SUCH an annoyance" presence as Hugo Weaving did to his Agent Smith in "The Matrix" flicks.

But "The Final Chapter" has no finesse. There's no humor in it, to say nothing of romance or genuine rooting human interest. You're not even sure if THIS post-apocalyptic world is worth saving as pretty much every human survivor Alice ever comes in contact with is kind of an unwashed jerk in his or her own way.

As a director, Paul W.S. Anderson (That's Mr. Milla Jovovich to you!) relies on a ridiculous amount of jump scares to keep his audience awake and paying attention. The beats of his action scenes have become tiresome. Time and again, Alice strides into some creepy facility run by Umbrella, skulks around in the near-dark, calls out to ask if anybody's there, relaxes when she thinks the place is all clear, and then -- BOOM! -- something horrible jumps shrieking out of the darkness ... and almost always from behind her.

And the whole raid on The Hive third act is drawn out to the point of bang-your-head tedium. Alice and the surviving rebels slowly make their way to a command center where they hope the anti-virus is. But they are watched via surveillance technology the whole time by evil Umbrella operative Wesker (Shawn Roberts, with hair and dark sunglasses that make him look like a fugitive from a Devo music video circa 1983). You get the sense that he could kill them at any time. But he doesn't. He sets traps that may or may not kill each one by one. Other times, he's barking at a hologram to "Activate security measures!" If he does this once, he does it three times.

And late in the film, a traitor amongst the group of rebels is revealed. But the character hasn't really done much to that point to sabotage the others. In fact, this traitor could easily have killed any or all of the rebels at any one time. And considering all of the random and planned, controlled and uncontrolled, near-death zombie and creature attacks that happen throughout, there's no way this traitor could have expected to live as long as he/she does to be of any help to The Umbrella Corporation.

So, to paraphrase Christian Bale: "Resident Evil," you and I are done professionally ... er, at least I hope so. This has to be the "Final Chapter," right? Right?! Don't let it mutate. Don't let it spread. Don't let it fester, re-animate, and come back to life, Hollywood! Kill it now, Tinseltown! Let ... it ... die! I give this a final score of 4 out of 10. (T. Durgin)




Reviewed January 25, 2017 / Posted January 27, 2017


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