Skip to main content

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

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter
(2016)

(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)


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Maybe he had one too many peanut butter and fried banana sandwiches.

3000 Miles to Graceland (2001) (SPOILERS) The kind of movie that makes your average Tarantino knockoff look classy, 3000 Miles to Graceland is both aggressively unpleasant and acutely absent any virtues, either as a script or a stylistic exercise. The most baffling thing about it is how it attracted Kevin Costner and Kurt Russell, particularly since both ought to have been extra choosy at this point, having toplined expensive bombs in the previous half decade that made them significantly less bankable names. And if you’re wondering how this managed to cost the $62m reported on Wiki, it didn’t; Franchise Pictures, one of the backers, was in the business of fraudulently inflating budgets .

I must remind you that the scanning experience is usually a painful one.

Scanners (1981) (SPOILERS) David Cronenberg has made a career – albeit, he may have “matured” a little over the past few decades, so it is now somewhat less foregrounded – from sticking up for the less edifying notions of evolution and modern scientific thought. The idea that regress is, in fact, a form of progress, and unpropitious developments are less dead ends than a means to a state or states as yet unappreciated. He began this path with some squeam-worthy body horrors, before genre hopping to more explicit science fiction with Scanners , and with it, greater critical acclaim and a wider audience. And it remains a good movie, even as it suffers from an unprepossessing lead and rather fumbles the last furlong, cutting to the chase when a more measured, considered approach would have paid dividends.

You seem particularly triggered right now. Can you tell me what happened?

Trailers The Matrix Resurrections   The Matrix A woke n ? If nothing else, the arrival of The Matrix Resurrections trailer has yielded much retrospective back and forth on the extent to which the original trilogy shat the bed. That probably isn’t its most significant legacy, of course, in terms of a series that has informed, subconsciously or otherwise, intentionally or otherwise, much of the way in which twenty-first century conspiracy theory has been framed and discussed. It is however, uncontested that a first movie that was officially the “best thing ever”, that aesthetically and stylistically reinvigorated mainstream blockbuster cinema in a manner unseen again until Fury Road , squandered all that good will with astonishing speed by the time 2003 was over.

We’re looking into a possible pattern of nationwide anti-Catholic hate crimes.

Vampires aka John Carpenter’s Vampires (1998) (SPOILERS) John Carpenter limps less-than-boldly onward, his desiccated cadaver no longer attentive to the filmic basics of quality, taste, discernment, rhyme or reason. Apparently, he made his pre-penultimate picture to see if his enthusiasm for the process truly had drained away, and he only went and discovered he really enjoyed himself. It doesn’t show. Vampires is as flat, lifeless, shoddily shot, framed and edited as the majority of his ’90s output, only with a repellent veneer of macho bombast spread on top to boot.

White nights getting to you?

Insomnia (2002) (SPOILERS) I’ve never been mad keen on Insomnia . It’s well made, well-acted, the screenplay is solid and it fits in neatly with Christopher Nolan’s abiding thematic interests, but it’s… There’s something entirely adequateabout it. It isn’t pushing any kind of envelope. It’s happy to be the genre-bound crime study it is and nothing more, something emphasised by Pacino’s umpteenth turn as an under-pressure cop.

Maybe I’m a heel who hates guys who hate heels.

Crimewave (1985) (SPOILERS) A movie’s makers’ disowning it doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nothing of worth therein, just that they don’t find anything of worth in it. Or the whole process of making it too painful to contemplate. Sam Raimi’s had a few of those, experiencing traumas with Darkman a few years after Crimewave . But I, blissfully unaware of such issues, was bowled over by it when I caught it a few years after its release (I’d hazard it was BBC2’s American Wave 2 season in 1988). This was my first Sam Raimi movie, and I was instantly a fan of whoever it was managed to translate the energy and visual acumen of a cartoon to the realm of live action. The picture is not without its problems – and at least some of them directly correspond to why it’s so rueful for Raimi – but that initial flair I recognised still lifts it.

Remember. Decision. Consequence.

Day Break (2006) (SPOILERS) Day Break is the rare series that was lucky to get cancelled. And not in a mercy-killing way. It got to tell its story. Sure, apparently there were other stories. Other days to break. But would it have justified going there? Or would it have proved tantalising/reticent about the elusive reason its protagonist has to keep stirring and repeating? You bet it would. Offering occasional crumbs, and then, when it finally comes time to wrap things up, giving an explanation that satisfies no one/is a cop out/offers a hint at some nebulous existential mission better left to the viewer to conjure up on their own. Best that it didn’t even try to go there.

You absolute horror of a human being.

As Good as it Gets (1997) (SPOILERS) James L Brooks’ third Best Picture Oscar nomination goes to reconfirm every jaundiced notion you had of the writer-director-producer’s capacity for the facile and highly consumable, low-cal, fast-food melodramatic fix with added romcom lustre. Of course, As Good as it Gets was a monster hit, parading as it does Jack in a crackerjack, attention-grabbing part. But it’s a mechanical, suffocatingly artificial affair, ponderously paced (a frankly absurd 139 minutes) and infused with glib affirmations and affections. Naturally, the Academy lapped that shit up, because it reflects their own lack of depth and perception (no further comment is needed than Titanic winning the big prize for that year).

You cut my head off a couple of dozen times.

Boss Level (2021) (SPOILERS) Lest you thought it was nigh-on impossible to go wrong with a Groundhog Day premise, Joe Carnahan, in his swaggering yen for overkill, very nearly pulls it off with Boss Level . I’m unsure quite what became of Carnahan’s early potential, but he seems to have settled on a sub-Tarantino, sub-Bay, sub-Snyder, sub-Ritchie butch bros aesthetic, complete with a tin ear for dialogue and an approach to plotting that finds him continually distracting himself, under the illusion it’s never possible to have too much. Of whatever it is he’s indulging at that moment.

I dreamed about a guy in a dirty red and green sweater.

A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984) (SPOILERS) I first saw A Nightmare on Elm Street a little under a decade after its release, and I was distinctly underwhelmed five or so sequels and all the hype. Not that it didn’t have its moments, but there was an “It’ll do” quality that reflects most of the Wes Craven movies I’ve seen. Aside from the postmodern tease of A New Nightmare – like Last Action Hero , unfairly maligned – I’d never bothered with the rest of the series, in part because I’m just not that big a horror buff, but also because the rule that the first is usually the best in any series, irrespective of genre, tends to hold out more often than not. So now I’m finally getting round to them, and it seemed only fair to start by giving Freddy’s first another shot. My initial reaction holds true.