Directed by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, Sienna Guilroy, Aryana Engineer, Bingbing Lee
There are a few useful things to know before deciding whether or not you want to undertake the latest Resident Evil movie. First of all, no, Ms. Jovovich’s depilated private region does not make another cameo appearance. (I believe the gynecological aspect of her “acting” is a thing of the past.) Second, Michelle Rodriguez does indeed return. (I have no idea why.) Third, the film boasts a running time of 95 minutes, but feels like at least three hours (and that’s even with bailing before reading the 26 million credits for CGI artists). Fourth, the film is even noisier, more incoherent, and more like watching someone play a shooter-style video game than its predecessors. In fact, at one point I became so bored by the repetitive action that I nodded off — only to be rudely wrenched from my rest not 15 seconds later by a zombie crashing through a closet door. Did I jump? Yes. Indeed, I think I injured my back in the process and am considering litigation against writer-director husband of Ms. Jovovich, Paul W.S. Anderson. Speaking of whom, I don’t know if he thinks he has topped the “epic epicness” (his term) of the previous installment here, but I imagine he does. Possibly “epic epicosity” has now been achieved.
Is there a plot? Yes, well, maybe…sort of. The film opens with a battle that seems to be tied to the last film (who can remember?) — only it’s being shown backwards and in slow-motion. Why? Beats me, but it is and it makes the whole thing look more cartoonish than it already did. Then we get to see it again forward, though blessedly at normal speed. This then segues into an “it was all a dream” mode with Alice (Jovovich) in a blonde-ish wig doing the Susie Homemaker schtick in suburbia — complete with doting daughter Becky (Aryana Engineer, Orphan). This lasts a good three minutes before…yes, zombies come a-calling. Mayhem ensues. Alice finds herself in Umbrella Corporation headquaters and — guess what? — the suburbia business was all an engineered simulation. Then there’s a lot of folderol about getting out of the Umbrella headquarters — and that’s pretty much the rest of the movie. Fight zombies and/or those inexplicable monsters with the ax/meat tenderizers we met in the previous movie or fight Umbrella henchmen. Rinse and repeat — over and over and over.
As usual, there’s a lengthy voice-over explaining the basic setup about the evil Umbrella Corporation, the t-virus (short for tyrant virus) that creates the zombies, etc. — just in case this is anyone’s first trip to one of these. But really, all that’s here is action — noisy, repetitive, ultimately tedious action. Like all the films — only more so — it all depends on how much you enjoy watching Jovovich in her S&M togs fight monsters and shoot big guns at them and the usual run of lousy marksmen who work for Umbrella. It’s all topped with a lot of CGI carnage and cheesy CGI blood-letting amidst CGI settings. There is apparently a market for all this — the last one had worldwide grosses of $296 million — though it continues to baffle me who these people are.
I look at my own history with the series and can see how it ran. When it started back in 2002 — before I’d ever even heard of the source game — I thought it was OK in a mindless way. After all, zombified Dobermans — especually slimy ones — were a novelty. By the second movie, I found myself writing things like, “Unless you’re hopelessly addicted to cardboard characters blasting away at zombies — or alternatively being lunched on by the hungry critters — I cannot begin to imagine why you’d want to see this movie.” With the third I found myself reduced to, “You’d think it would be a simple matter to break down the potential audience for Resident Evil: Extinction. There are, after all, those not likely to respond to a movie involving zombie crows and those who are likely to respond to such a film.” And it’s been downhill from there. Now, I’m finding the things actively annoying. Plus, I hurt my back in the bargain. Rated R for sequences of strong violence throughout.