Franchise Review: Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016)

Written and Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson

Well, here we are – the last outing for Alice (Milla Jovovich) as she faces off against hordes of the undead and the top brass from Umbrella while the fate of the human race rests in her hands.

The Final Chapter catches up with Alice some time after the end of Retribution which set us up for an apocalyptic battle with the undead. Wesker (Shawn Roberts) gives Alice her powers back and tells her he needs her help to win the war against the zombies. However, it appears that the battle was fought and lost by the humans as Alice wanders the remains of Washington, seemingly alone. An unpleasant encounter with a bloated zombie and then a terrifying winged beast suggest that the humans didn’t come off best in this last encounter.

At this point we have no idea what has happened to any of her companions from the last film, but I’m getting used to that by now, and don’t really expect any of them to turn up. The one thing you can rely on in the Resident Evil films seems to be a slight lack of continuity between films. Whether this is just down to convenience, actors not available (or not wishing) to return, I am not sure, but The Final Chapter is probably the worst for this.

Having said that, I don’t really mind to be honest.

With 4 years between the last two films, The Final Chapter opens with plenty of exposition and we get a back-story about the virus, the scientist who created it and his sick daughter, upon who the Red Queen was modelled. After this we join Alice in Washington, where she receives a phone call from the Red Queen who completes the info dump and sets Alice on her next mission; she has just 48 hours to release the anti-virus, stop the attacks on the final human suvivors, destroy Umbrella and, basically, save the world – easy! Oh, and Wesker was playing her all along! He didn’t really give her her powers back and expected her to die in Washington.

Like any good story we end up where we started; Racoon City. This is where the anti-virus is, so that is where Alice needs to go, chased by Dr Isaacs (Iain Glenn) who seems to have ‘got religion’ along the way and is clearly a few genes short of a DNA strand.

As she returns to Racoon City, Alice finds a group of survivors (bit of a trend forming here) who include Claire (Ali Larter) and they set out to save their settlement, infiltrate the Hive and put an end to everything. Most of those suvivors die along the way (yep, another trend for Alice).

At this point, there is no real point in relaying the details of the plot. They just need to get to the Hive and release the anti-virus – but it is the journey that we want to enjoy. And The Final Chapter obliges. Yet more ass-kicking, gun-toting madness as Alice goes about her business. She may not have her powers, but when you can fight like Alice, do you really need them? These really are action-adventure films more than horror, and they certainly deliver on that front. This time around we get to see Alice kill several Umbrella soldiers while hanging upside down from a trap, burn thousands of zombies with gasoline, fight giant winged beasts and vicious humanoids as well as various clones and people who aren’t who they appear to be.

If you try to apply too much logic to the plot, it will probably fall apart, but you don’t need to. Just go with it and, ultimately, what you get is a decent end to the series that gives Alice some sort of closure as she finds out, finally, who she really is, and tries to figure our which clone of Dr Isaac she is fighting today!

There does feel like a bit of “deus ex machina” in The Final Chapter, with a number of major revelations coming matter of factly as the story develops but, to be fair, none of them were that ridiculous, so I never felt like I got taken out of the film. They certainly worked well enough in the Resident Evil world and who am I to complain if they conveniently paper over some plot holes from previous films with throwaway lines?

It’s just daft fun once again and I enjoyed it. In fact I enjoyed the whole series which developed nicely over the 14 years of the franchise and became a very different beast from the first film which got so much flack for not being the video game. And let’s face it, the whole of the Resident Evil series feels like a lot of it was made up as they went along. How much of an issue this is for you depends on just how much more important plot is over action and adventure in such a franchise. Of course, if you stop for five minutes and break down any of the plots, you will find problems galore, but where is the fun in that? There is enough of that online already if you want to read up on how shit everything is, why add to it? In fact I would say the later films are probably the better films. Once they shed the history of the games and set out on their own, they become more enjoyable as they just do their own thing, less constrained by expectations. I think that the later films would have worked just as well, if not better, without introducing all the side characters like Claire, Ada, Chris, Jill and Barry. Although, having said that, they might not have done so well at the box office without that nod to the games and the fan base. But, for me, by the time I was into the 4th film, I had largely forgotten the games and was just invested in Alice’s story for what it was. A bit of fun!

Anyway, I enjoyed revisiting the franchise and watching some of the films for the first time, and now have the bug, so will go on and catch-up with some of the more recent entries in Resident Evil universe, like Welcome to Raccoon City and the upcoming Resident Evil TV series.

So there we go, all done.

Although there is one small question that is still niggling at me that I don’t think any of the films ever tried to answer.

Considering how big The Hive is (not to mention other Umbrella facilities around the world) where the hell did they put all the soil when they excavated the hole?

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