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After all, who wants to know they’re just a poor imitation of a worthless copy?

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

(SPOILERS) I’m not sure I’d go as far as to call Iain Glen the saving grace of a billion-dollar-grossing movie franchise, but I suspect it’s no coincidence that the best two entries in the Resident Evil series feature him prominently. Unlike most of the characters in the run, he imbues Dr Isaacs with considerable personality, which can only serve to lift the proceedings, particularly in this concluding part. It helps too that Paul WS Anderson is genuinely attempting to pull out all the stops in terms of plot twists and set pieces. Which means Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, while it’s the longest in the sextet by some margin, rarely feels like it’s idling.

The most curious decision here, however, is a stylistic one. One of Anderson’s virtues – and they aren’t abundant; I also have to caveat that his movies aren’t hugely memorable, so I may be mistaken in the following assertion – is that his action is generally pretty clear, well blocked and comprehensible. For some unknown reason, he decides to break out the handheld for The Final Chapter, going for shakycam broke more than a decade after it was becoming the back-breaking bugbear of many a discerning moviegoers’ enjoyment. I have no idea how this one fared as a 3-D experience, but since it’s pretty damn dark, pretty damn shaky and pretty evidently not designed for that extra dimension the way its two predecessors were (it was post-converted), I’d guess not so well.

While I’m not a fan of such aesthetic choices most of the time – and in some hands, such as those of Marc Forster, I downright deplore them – Anderson must nevertheless have been doing something right this time, as The Final Chapter is better paced and the action more commanding than the more overtly choreographed Afterlife or Retribution. He’s inspired enough to engineer a series of reasonably impressive set pieces, from Alice killing some bikers upside down, to being dragged behind an armoured vehicle pursued by zombie hordes, to an encounter with a rather big and nasty turbine, another with some trapdoors, and also some ugly new mutant creatures too boot. Alice has her super strength back but still has trouble with Lee Joon-gi (ie there’s again little discernible difference either way in her fortitude). She’s given to the occasional bout of ennui – “Sometimes I feel like this has been my whole life. Running. Killing” – and to prove she’s vulnerable, even gets some fingers chopped off.

But this was never going to end like Logan, not with Anderson’s missus in the lead. There’s copious retconning in The Final Chapter, but it mostly benefits the overall picture and perhaps the series generally. Am I bothered about not finding out the fates of our heroes left languishing on the White House roof? Not a bit. It was evident as soon as the retconned Marcus with daughter “Alicia” opened the picture that we’d discover a connection to Alice – see, she’s not just nobody – and that duly arrives via Milla doused in old-age prosthetics and visions of a rabid zombie child in a cable car.

This time, the Red Queen is redefined as a good AI, her programming conflicted by the discovery of an intent to wipe out humanity – an airborne antivirus will, if released, destroy the T-virus, but Umbrella intends to wait until humanity’s last vestiges are wiped out (only 4,472 of whom remain on the face of the Earth). Which will occur in under 48 hours. Which means Alice must infiltrate the Hive and release the antivirus first (this is all a bit daft, like how Umbrella knows for certain the last humans will definitely die by then. Unless I missed something in the intricately crafter plot). In the mix are a clone Isaacs (who believes he is the real deal), Wexler – rightly reduced to Isaacs’ stooge, as he’s pretty vanilla – and real Isaacs, now with super-augmented skillz and representing one of a Noah’s ark for the Elite earmarked to reconstitute the Earth (“A world ready for the righteous and the pure to inherit”).

Anderson’s hacky ideas and impulses are frequently in evidence – just how long does it take Alice to actually release that damn antivirus, and isn’t it fast-acting when she does, but not fast enough that it won’t take years to reach all corners of the globe. However, the material with Isaacs and his Machiavellian plan is pretty good, and there are some memorable moments involved, such as the climactic appearance of clone Isaacs, askance at his mirror and rejecting his real self quite violently.

On top of this, there’s a memorable slice of predictive programming, whereby the release of the T-virus was an active plan set in motion by the Umbrella corporation. Now, the specifics of this may come into question – real viruses and actual outbreaks versus jabbed humans and shed spike proteins – but the end goal is identical. Well, maybe more accentuated here, as by most reckonings the Elite want some level of serfs left, whether or not that means they’re scouring some areas and leaving others intact (Deagle). Or merely wiping out the adults to ensure an easily impressionable new generation will forget all that went before, the darlings of transhumanism and entrenched AI.

Via a flashback, “good AI’ the Red Queen informs us that Umbrella high command held a meeting seventeen months before the viral outbreak occurred. In which Isaacs wishes to discuss “Not just future of the company, its destiny” as “We’re here to talk about the end of the world”. He proceeds to throw in a ream of cute catchphrases that have been force fed an apocalyptically indoctrinated populace for nigh on a century now, affirming that we really are on “the brink of Armageddon”. This list is exclusively the balderdash of materialist science and Hegelian propaganda, including “Diseases for which we have no cure”, “Fundamentalist states who call for our destruction”, “Nuclear powers over which we have no control”, every Greta’s favourite “Global warming” (the temperature will reach ninety degrees in eighty years) and the myth of unchecked population growth (which will overtake food production in fifty years). To emphasise this is a vast, mucus-riddled tissue of lies, Isaacs concludes with “This is no conjecture. This is fact” and adds “One way or another, our world is coming to an end. Now, the question is, will we end with it?”. His solution:

I propose that we end the world, but on our own terms. An orchestrated operation, one that will cleanse the Earth of its population but leave its infrastructure and resources intact. It’s been done before with great success.

At which point, he indicates a Bible and references Noah’s flood. Isaacs is God in this scenario, or the polar opposite. Once they have murdered over seven billion people and cleansed the Earth, “we can reboot it in our image”. Or reset it, if you’re Klaus. The amusement here is that Alice only “wins” after the Elite have succeeded in their mission. 99.9999% are gone, and the best of the best of the survivors are an AI and a clone. You see, transhumanism is best, just like Sir Ridders has been preaching for decades. “The clone became more human than they ever could be”. In this new world, we will have nothing, sucking gratefully on garbage, and be happy.

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter was victim to both a serious injury and a fatality, with Anderson called out as culpable for the first of them. It clearly didn’t give him pause to consider his career path, as he has followed it up with… a video game adaptation starring Milla Jovovich. Meanwhile a reboot Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is due later this year. I think I may wait until the sixth instalment of that series before investigating further…

Resident Evil ranked:

1. Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)

2. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

3. Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)

4. Resident Evil (2002)

5. Resident Evil: Afterlife (2012)

6. Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)

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