Reviewed by John Hussey
And here we are at the final chapter. I honestly thought this mess of a film franchise would never end to be honest, and be one of those annoying by-products that just went on and on and on, constantly reminding us we’ll never see a faithful live-action adaption of Resident Evil.
Resident Evil: Retribution left the franchise on a very high note and became my new favourite within the franchise because of its unique direction and feel. But unfortunately, as ever, Paul W. S. Anderson just can’t help himself. Once again he pulls the same sick trick of promising something truly epic at the end of one film only to completely discard it at the beginning of the next. Remember that awesome Lord of the Rings type set-up where an army of biological creatures charged towards Washington with only Alice and her new band of friends standing in its way. Yeah, me neither.
Resident Evil: The Final Chapter opens up with yet more exposition (just in case you didn’t know what was going on anymore) in which it explains the origins of the T-Virus. “But wait,” you might ask, “Weren’t we told this in the events of Resident Evil: Apocalypse, in which it was Dr. Charles Ashford attempts to save his daughter, Angela, from a form of genetic illness.” Well clearly Anderson, the writer of the entire series, forgot his own continuity. But then again he has a nasty habit of doing this in every single film (so what’s new). I’m beginning to think he does it for convenience sake in order to smooth out his already decaying career.
In the final chapter the timelines are changed and it is now Dr. James Marcus, the original founder of the Umbrella Corporation, who created the T-Virus for his daughter, Alicia. Upon an incident his partner Alexander Isaacs, reprised by Iain Glen, tries persuading him to use his invention for military purposes but upon refusal Isaacs gets Albert Wesker, reprised by Shawn Roberts, to suffocate him. This really begins to complicate things as The Final Chapter randomly rewrites the entirety of the series for the sake of giving it a pleasing conclusion.
Of course another fuck-up on Anderson’s part is forgetting what his own villain is called. In previous films he was called Dr. Sam Isaacs, and not Dr. Alexander Isaacs. And for the sake of writing around his apparent death within Resident Evil: Extinction we are told that Isaacs had multiple clones in action that were programmed to believe they were the original. The Final Chapter prides itself on revelations and attempts at clever rejigging of its own narrative but on its many hurdles towards the finish-line it trips itself up repeatedly before getting to that rightful point of saying, “And cut.”
To further change his character Anderson adopts the approach of giving him a more crazy reason for being the villain of the series. It turns out that Isaacs deliberately caused the T-Virus outbreak in the first place in order to replenish the planet’s population like some God-given right. He even references the bible to justify his actions in front of the Umbrella board. I know it’s easy to write in a religious, self-righteous nut-case because they are normally deemed psychotic in their demented crusades, but here it just feels rather lazy and out of the blue.
Why didn’t his clone share this same line of thought? Instead I am left feeling like the clone and the real Isaacs are separate characters, with the latest incarnation being a convenient reshaping to suit the needs of the last instalment and its bat-shit crazy ideas. This entire film is riddled with similar problems as the continuous theme of self-indulgent reaches new heights. Not only is The Final Chapter referencing the past over and over again but it takes pride in rewriting it for the sake of adding in new surprises, which mostly doesn’t make sense.
Upon the film finally getting started we open up with what can only be described as the aftermath of the epic battle we were promised. What the fuck are you playing at Anderson?! Don’t you like telling good stories or would you rather continue to kick us in the bollocks for your own twisted amusement?! The real icing on top of this poisonous cake is the fact that, like with Retribution, key characters are just abandoned without any real reason or explanation.
Enjoyed seeing Leon S. Kennedy? Well tough luck! Enjoyed seeing Ada Wong? Well tough luck! Enjoyed seeing the return of Jill Valentine? Well tough… I think my point has been made rather clear. You can’t just introduce great characters, especially when they’re from the fucking games (the very thing your precious films are based upon) and then disrespectfully discard them at your leisure. Let me tell you something Mr. Anderson, Resident Evil and its amazing content isn’t there to be your plaything. It’s there to be respected and if you don’t want to play nicely, treat it with respect, and would rather continue to use them to tie together the knots of your worn down pieces of shit films then you can just piss off out the back door and never return!
I mean it’s bad enough that Valentine has already been shafted once without any real explanation and now, once again, she vanishes without a trace. All of these brilliant iconic characters have been killed off screen and we as fans are supposed to be okay with this. I don’t think my bollocks can take much more if I’m truly honest. Worst of all Anderson has had the cheek to kill off another child character after discarding Angela between Apocalypse and Extinction (without any explanation) and now he’s done it to Becky, the clone daughter of Alice from Umbrella’s secret testing facility.
Moving past this shit-storm of a opening we have Alice take on one of the bat-like creatures from Resident Evil 5 (just because Anderson likes to keep his little nods up to date, in which case Leon should’ve met Chris Redfield, Wesker should have a son, and the Baker family should be on the rampage by now). A thing I will make very clear about the action sequences of this film, they fucking suck! I absolutely despise the modern way of editing action sequences because the shots are too up-close, to the point you can’t see what’s actually going on, and the cuts between shots are too intense and rapid, which further makes it impossible to see what the hell is going on.
Marvel at Alice’s awesomeness. Even if I wanted to (which I don’t) I still can’t simply because the filmmakers are making it too damn difficult. And on the subject of Alice. I know Milla Jovovich tries her best, but how can I put this without sounding too mean, “She’s not a very good actress.” I’m sorry but she’s not. Most of the time she comes across as bland, and I know a lot of male action actors can come across as bland, using the same styled voice all the time, but at least I feel something.
Heck, to prove I’m not being sexist just look at Sigourney Weaver. I love her to bits because she nails both the badass side of her performance as well as giving us an emotional side too. With Jovovich it’s just the same song and dance without any real substance other than “look at me, don’t I look awesome”. And with discovering that she’s married to Anderson the penny completely drops as to why she gets so much attention, particularly when it comes to taking her clothes off nearly every film.
Like I keep banging on about, with all the characters that could’ve been used Anderson continued to flip the bird at us fans by creating his own little pets that don’t satisfy while the actual characters we wanted to see are continuously fobbed off to help make his super-star shine brighter. I mean it’s bad enough that Retribution decided to give us something interesting, with Alice feeling more than a one-dimensional character, whilst the actual Resident Evil characters mingled with Anderson’s crazy ideas in unity. And now all that has been thrown out the window in exchange for the same old shit as before (which I hated). So much for turning over a new leaf.
I’m side-tracking again. In a massive turn of events the Red Queen decides to unveil that there’s actual a special Anti-Virus that can cure the world. How convenient it’s never been mentioned before and seems completely far-fetched and lazily introduced for the last instalment. Also, wasn’t the Red Queen the villain of Retribution? It’s becoming really confusing to follow this series now. Apparently Wesker was never a good guy in the previous film (thank God!) and double-crossed Alice during the battle in an attempt to wipe out the remaining survivors from existence.
So why did the Red Queen capture Alice in Retribution if Wesker was intending to double-cross her, or vice-versa? This whole plan to capture and destroy Alice is becoming completely daft by this point and has caused more harm than good. Despite Anderson penning every single film, his disregard for his own continuity is atrocious, making me wonder if he ever had a clue what he was doing at any given time.
Wesker is another fallen by-product of this series as he has been thrown around like a rag-doll at the expense of keeping Anderson’s vision afloat. Extinction saw him appearing as a overpowering businessman, before Resident Evil: Afterlife brought us a near perfect adaption of his video game counterpart, before Retribution and The Final Chapter tore his arse a new one. From once being the Chairman of Umbrella, and the overarching villain that has plagued Alice in both strength and wit, has now been turned into a glorified henchmen for Isaacs.
I was led to think that we would get a final confrontation between him and Alice, which would’ve made sense considering their arch-rivalry throughout the last three films, and would’ve given The Final Chapter more pay-off. Sadly this never surfaced and instead he was written out of the film carelessly, stabbing a fantastic villain in the back, and showing once more that Anderson is an arse and has no respect over the product he is supposedly adapting.
The narrative attempts to be poetic by taking Alice back to the very beginning, i.e. Raccoon City and the Hive, in order to finish what she essentially started. We are filled with some rather nice action sequences, particularly when the survival group are fending off the massive horde led to Raccoon City by Isaacs. The film certainly becomes interesting when Alice and her new team enter the Hive and are pitted against Wesker and his sadistic games as he tries to kill them one by one through manually controlling the facilities defence system. One scene in particular that ends rather nastily is the teams deadly encounter with a giant fan.
Unfortunately The Final Chapter drops the ball in terms of its design and look, reverting back to pre-Retribution and losing its unique look in favour of being bland. Again, it’s a massive shame that Anderson fell back on his promises of pushing the series forward for its final instalment after such amazing work done with the previous film and it’s great additions. That, along with the editing issues I mentioned earlier, make this film feel rather unfulfilling as a final instalment. Also, the monster designs are pitiful. But then again it’s hard to see what they look like with the seizure inducing fast-cuts.
I will give this to The Final Chapter, and that is it’s main revelation, which I will admit was semi-surprising and actually added something to the narrative. Alice is in fact a clone, and has been since the very beginning. Looking back on the series it makes perfect sense. We never found out anything about her previous life before her memory wipe in the mansion. And throughout the rest of the films we’ve had multiple in-your-face references to clones and how Umbrella ulterised them. Heck, Ada Wong pretty much spilled the beans when explaining their usages in the training facility, stating they could be programmed to become a security operative.
I kind of picked up on the fact that Alice and Alicia had something in common when hearing her voice in Isaacs meeting during the flashback. She sounded like Jovovich. And conveniently we didn’t see her face. This goes a long way to explain Alice’s complex relationship with Umbrella, and the Red Queen. It’s a fitting revelation and makes her journey seem even more complex and somewhat fulfilling considering she was never real and was always a by-product of the corrupt corporation.
If you want to go further you could say this slightly excuses Alice’s bland character because she never did have one in the first place. She’s a clone. But having said that can this revelation be the cure of all the film’s problems. No, absolutely not. It’s almost too convenient (and I’m using that word a lot for this review) and ties the knots together far too eagerly as if it’s Anderson’s desperate attempt to fix his continuous problems, making all the continuity re-writes more justifiable.
Though The Final Chapter didn’t have the personal stakes of the final battle in Retribution, it was still a great final fight to end the series with. Isaacs character becomes a massive threat and even surpasses Wesker’s level of intensity. Though I would’ve preferred Wesker being the final threat, Isaacs still gave Alice a great toe-to-toe action sequence which became tense at times and felt gritty and edgy. I suppose it almost justified Isaacs being built-up as the big bad of the series.
What I liked the most was his augmented functions, which allowed him superior strength, speed, and the ability to calculate the probability of a situations outcome. It’s ironic that Isaacs succumbs to his deserved fate at the hands of his own clone after the deranged doppelganger attacks the original because he believes himself to be the real Isaacs. The climatic moment arrives where it is thought that Alice has to sacrifice herself in order to save the world but even Anderson can’t bare the thought of ending his series on a high note, so instead decides to bring Alice back to life with the lamest of terms in order to continue the good fight (on the off chance that Anderson decides to come back and ruin Resident Evil some more).
Overall, The Final Chapter does at least conclude the Resident Evil film series. But I can’t say that it was the best possible ending, but since the entire franchise is a train-wreck one can’t expect a masterpiece to miraculously blossom at the very end. It’s riddled with all the same tropes you’ve come to expect from the series by now and tries to be extra clever by being overly indulgent, re-writing its own history to complement the random revelations, and of yeah, Claire Redfield is randomly in this. Fuck Chris, Leon, Jill, Ada. Anderson wants only Claire to share Alice’s spotlight in the final outing just because the trolling bastard says so. Thanks for nothing!