There isn’t a film series under the sun that perplexes me as much as the Resident Evil franchise. Having seen each multiple times, I feel differently about them after each viewing. Sometimes I love them, sometimes I hate them and sometimes I land somewhere in the middle because, as poor as they are, they’re amusing. With that said, I fear my feelings for the newest installment, Resident Evil: Afterlife, will always be the same. It continues the poor production trend of the previous movies while forgetting all about the fun.
Milla Jovovich plays Alice, a former employee of the Umbrella Corporation, a company that practically destroyed the world. Years ago, a virus known as the T-virus escaped the confines of their laboratories and slowly turned everybody into zombies. Now there are only a handful of survivors left, but Umbrella continues in their studies. The movie begins with Alice infiltrating the Umbrella headquarters in Tokyo and taking out everybody inside with her recently discovered powers (which apparently include cloning herself at will), including Wesker (Shawn Roberts), who looks and sounds suspiciously like Agent Smith from The Matrix. But before doing so, Wesker injects her with something, stripping her of her powers and making her human again. Now, years later she is in search of an uninfected area known as Arcadia and finds it. The problem is she’s surrounded by zombies with no viable route to get there. So she, along with Claire (Ali Larter), Chris (Wentworth Miller) and a handful of others, come up with a plan of escape.
Resident Evil: Afterlife feels as much like a Resident Evil video game as the previous movies, which is to say not at all. Rather than emulate the games, known for their tension and scares (the earlier ones, at least), where the characters carry a limited ammo supply to fend off the zombie horde, the films amp up the action and are more like mind-numbing shooting galleries where things like ambiance mean very little.
Coincidentally, the script seems like it was ripped from a generic shoot-em-up video game where the cutscenes exist solely as a bridge to the next gun battle, complete with synthetic music, a general disregard for coherence and stupid dialogue (after seeing a ship—“It’s a ship!”). There’s even what you could call a boss battle with an unexplained and random axe wielding monstrosity that feels more like Pyramid Head from Silent Hill than anything that should be appearing in something called Resident Evil.
It’s hard to believe that this franchise has made it to a fourth entry, but with relatively low budgets and millions of video game nerds willing to see movies based on their favorite games, I shouldn’t be surprised. After three movies, however, something needs to change, but those changes merely consist of borrowing heavily from other video games (like a set piece eerily reminiscent of the flooded staircase in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty) and films like the ones previously mentioned (as well as a new breed of zombie that look exactly like the Reapers from Blade II). Paul W.S. Anderson seems incapable of writing a good, unique script. In fact, his two best directorial efforts (Mortal Kombat and Event Horizon) were not written by him.
What’s really left in Resident Evil: Afterlife is the 3D, of which does nothing to enhance the experience. It doesn’t detract much either, however, because it’s hard to detract from something that has so little to detract from. If you’re a gamer, I’m sure you’ll be interested in seeing what they’ve done with the franchise (as I regrettably was), but take my word for it and don't.
Resident Evil: Afterlife receives 1/5