Game over, man, game over. The fourth live-action film in the Resident Evil series is let down by a script riddled with plot holes and utter lack of character development or rational motivations that might otherwise give a viewer some reason to care about anyone’s fate.
For those needing a recap, the flick begins with Olympic back-flipping, corkscrew-spinning, zombie killing, T-virus infected super-heroine Alice (Milla Jovovich) and her foxy army of clones invading the headquarters of the villainous Umbrella Corporation. Her target: antagonist Albert Weskler (Shawn Roberts), whom it is later revealed wants to eat Alice and gain her infection-resilient DNA. Sounds logical…
The opening sequence wisely ties up the clone plot thread and returns Alice to a condition more human and vulnerable, which (at least briefly) generates some dramatic tension. Soon after, the film reintroduces another series regular, Claire (Ali Larter), who is discovered suffering from amnesia after a mishap searching for a utopian, virus-free zone in Alaska.
Flying back to Hollywood in a biplane, Alice and Claire land atop a zombie-surrounded prison complex and are introduced to a basketball star, a wanna-be actor, a backstabbing producer and his assistant, a long-lost family member (convenient!) and some old dude who enjoys peeping on women in the shower (that’s literally the only character trait he is given). Their goal is to escape to a large, mysterious barge anchored off of the coast, which makes about as much as sense as eating someone to gain their DNA immunity.
Not helping matters is that the film’s early, awkward plot exposition is strangely wedged in via several voice-overs and videotaped testimonials from Alice. Later, despite Alice’s return to mortality, both she and Claire begin partaking in stunts that Chow Yun Fat would be incapable of pulling off in a John Woo action spectacular.
The stone-faced leads don’t even seem very concerned about their predicament. The decaying undead, present but barely featured until the final act, are treated merely as a nuisance, garnering about as much of a rise from our heroine as a rodent infestation. Of course, this diminishes the threat as a result, leaving the film curiously flat and decidedly lacking in anything resembling scares or thrills.
At least the 3D mercifully distracts from the narrative. Weapons are drawn and thrust out of the screen. Projectiles dramatically pass through the heads of zombies. In the film’s most impressively shot scene, a large, lumbering, executioner-like figure (whose reason for existence isn’t really explained) swings his axe head towards frame. He also ruptures shower pipes that spray upward – the sole purpose of which seems to be soaking actresses Jovovich and Larter.
Of course, all this is inoffensive nonsense, but with an annoying ending that sets up another inevitable sequel, Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil: Afterlife and its predecessors feel like a germ that has lingered far too long, hopefully leaving us more and more immune to its influence.
2 out of 5