When it comes to long-running franchises, often the movies released later in a series almost require audiences to have seen most if not all of the films that preceded it. One of the things I liked about director and writer Paul W.S. Anderson’s approach with his latest “Resident Evil” film was the fact anyone could walk into this sixth — and reportedly last — big-screen expansion of the popular video games, and “get” the storyline right off the bat.
Anderson’s relatively quick recap at the top reminds viewers where we’ve been with the saga of Alice (again played by Anderson’s wife and partner, Milla Jovovich) and provides for a smooth transition to where Alice is in this final film.
In “The Final Chapter,” we find Alice embarking on quite the torturous journey to return to Raccoon City, where, as all good “Resident Evil” fans know, the global, deadly infectious T-virus originated. In the last film, “Resident Evil: Retribution,” Alice and her personal army experienced a truly calamitous defeat in Washington, D.C. Now, she is presented with one last — and fairly unlikely — chance to save humanity from the insidious, total destruction scheme of the scary Umbrella Corp.
Once Alice dodges a phalanx of zombies and hideous mutant monsters, she ultimately does make it to Raccoon City, where she encounters a group of survivors who miraculously have been able to protect themselves — at least so far — from the zombie nightmare.
In this sixth film, the action again is non-stop, the special effects appropriately intense, gory and nerve-jangling, and Jovovich delivering yet another kick-ass performance as one of our favorite female action heroines.
The strength of this franchise always has been its emphasis on strong female characters driving the action and the storyline. Along with Jovovich’s Alice, we again have Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield, plus new character additions Abigail (cheekily performed by Australian actress Ruby Rose) and Cobalt (played by Japanese newcomer Rola).
Of course, all good films of this genre require some deliciously evil villains, and Shawn Roberts’ Wesker returns to the franchise as the head of the Umbrella Corp. — exuding his fascistic fanaticism to cleanse the world via his horrendous virus, toward what he believes will be a rebirth of civilization. Joining Wesker as his fellow baddie is Dr. Isaacs (played by Iain Glen), who showcases a calm, urbane demeanor as he wreaks devilish havoc on Alice and her compadres.
For fans of “Resident Evil,” I believe this final film will not disappoint, but it also will likely encourage newcomers to the saga to go back and play a bit of catch-up by watching the earlier movies.
Screen Gems presents a film written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Rated R (for sequences of violence throughout). Running time: 105 minutes. Opens Friday at local theaters.