Coinciding with the release of Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, a new instalment in the Resident Evil film series has just premiered in cinemas all over the world (it's landing in the UK on February 3). While the recent game takes things in a radical new direction - you can read our review of Capcom's triumphant return to the franchise by aiming at this link - the cinematic spin-off series is finally coming to an end.
The subtitle "The Final Chapter" is telling, because the movie sees the mysterious and enigmatic Alice (once again played by Milla Jovovich) fighting against the ever-scheming Umbrella Corporation, its dreaded helper Albert Wesker, and his sinister bosses. A nice move is that the story once again nods its head towards the first (and best) film in the series.
The first Resident Evil released way back in 2002 and endured a mixed reception from fans, mainly because it had very little to do with the plot of the video games. Then again, it was also a solid adaptation of the IP and an entertaining B movie in its own right, and it did enough to secure a succession of sequels between then and now.
However, after the first and from the second film on, writer Paul W.S. Anderson (who also directed most of the Resident Evil films) made an effort to include more characters from the games. This has continued over the course of the series, beginning with Jill Valentine, Carlos Olivera and Nemesis, the cast then extending over time with the addition of Wesker, Claire and Chris Redfield, Leon S. Kennedy, Ada Wong and Barry Burton.
In the new film, however, the characters that franchise fans know and love are seldom seen. Instead, this is all about a final showdown between Alice and Umbrella boss Dr. Isaacs (who is played once again by Iain Glen of Game of Thrones fame). He is about to set in motion his master plan to eradicate the remnants of mankind, and only Alice can stop him, with help from a highly unexpected source (which we'll not spoil here, of course).
Alice struggles to make her way through the devastated US in order to finally reach the familiar Umbrella base - The Hive - and take care of business. The road is, naturally, paved with (living) corpses and action scenes, which, as so often happens in this series, makes for some innovative visual delights. It is a bit exaggerated, however, and the fast-paced editing can leave you feeling a bit dazed and confused. Even long-time leading lady Milla Jovovich stated at the premiere of the film in Tokyo that it was hard to keep track of what was happening at times.
Further to that point, if you watch too closely you may well stumble over one or two plot holes, and there's even some 'borrowed' ideas in there that eagle-eyed viewers might catch. Also, this may not be the best written movie you'll see this year, and here you'll find pearls such as: "We did not succeed because we have failed". Quite.
It pretty much comes with the territory, though, and if you've seen the previous chapters you'll be ready for it. Fans of the series won't be caught off guard, and as such it's a worthy conclusion to the long-running series.