February 7, 2017

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: Definitely Not the Final Chapter is the stupidest movie ever made.

Looking much healthier now that her pregnancy has forced her into something resembling the weight of an actual human woman, Milla Jovovich is back as Protagonist of Action Movie, doing what she does best: jump-kick CGI dog-monsters in slow motion. Loud, stupid, and boring, Resident Evil: Who Cares is the quintessential Fuck You, It's January movie. When I reviewed the last indistinguishable train wreck of an entry in this series, I noted that the only fun to be had with these things is identifying which great film each one rips off. And since writer/director/Milla's husband Paul W.S. "Aliens vs. Predator" Anderson has already ripped off George Miller once, he figured why not do it again. So yes, Mad Milla: Slightly Miffed Road provides us, the viewing audience, with the best action film of the last 20 years as done by the man who gave us Death Race.

My God, I never thought I would write these words, but Milla Jovovich is no Charlize Theron.

Happily, this entry continues the series's proud tradition of starting off by flatly contradicting the end of its predecessor. The last film ended by setting up the ultimate showdown between zombie and human. The latter include the villainous Wesker, the antagonist of the prior film, who's turned against the Evil Umbrella Corporation and joined up with Our Heroine Alice because, as I noted in my review, he only just now figured out how pointless the company's goals are if humanity is wiped out by the zombies. But disregard that! I mean, what kind of action movie sequel would open with the intense, rousing battle between the last remnants of humanity and the zombie horde promised by the end of the last one? This is Resident Evil, a film series that positively marvels in mediocrity, abandons plot threads like a Kardashian's husband, and celebrates limp, underwhelming anticlimax. So we instead open on the great battle's aftermath. Did the humans win? Lose? Does it matter? I hope not, since we never find out. All that set-up for the biggest case of cinematic blueballs this side of The Matrix Revolutions. And Agent Smith Wesker's joining up with Alice? Also undone! And off-sceen to boot! Turns out his face-turn was just a ruse. I guess the old "hero forced to team up with the villain", hoary and well-worn as that cliche is, was still too damned original and possibly interesting to be in a Resident Evil movie. So his betrayal has absolutely no emotional resonance, since we never see that scene or how it affected Alice, assuming it's even possible for anything to have an emotional impact on this "character" who's spent six goddamn movies wearing the same facial expression.

He also took her superpowers away...also off-screen, though again as I said in my review of the previous film, this makes absolutely no difference. She's no less unstoppable with her powers "taken away", whatever that means and however that was accomplished, than she was with them, like the scene where she effortlessly dispatches five men armed with assault rifles while she's dangling upside down from a rope tied around one foot. And if you're tired of my referencing my earlier review, well, why shouldn't I? This movie is aggressively unoriginal. It's almost charming the way it doesn't attempt to be noteworthy, interesting, or distinctive in any way. It rubs its blandness in your face, daring you to find something, anything to distinguish it from earlier entries in the Underworld franchise.

What? Oh. Oh, right, I meant the Resident Evil franchise. Don't know how I could have made that mistake.

At one point a character (it doesn't matter which one, none is distinguishable and they all die, just like every supporting "character" in all the other films) says to Alice, "I know you." Well, I don't. She doesn't get enough to eat, she kicks zombies, she shoots a lot, she has superpowers sometimes and doesn't at other times. That's all I've got after 6 movies. I don't know anything about her as a person. At all. I don't recall her ever showing an emotion. She could be revealed to be a robot, or an alien, or a clone, and I wouldn't register a modicum of surprise.


Early on, Alice gets captured by the villain from the third film, played by the Poor Man's Sean Bean, so we can continue ripping off Fury Road. Yes, PMSB died at the end of that film, but what's that got to do with anything, you silly person! This is the Resident Evil series, where any death can be explained away with the words "Oh that was my clone." Why yes, PMSB does have an Asian henchman who gets no lines but does get into a kung fu fight with Alice, thank you for asking! It's 2017, but Asian people still exist solely to do martial arts and math! With PMSB in the picture, there's no need for Wesker, so the latter spends the entire movie standing around in his office looking at monitors and ordering the Red Queen (the artificial intelligence villain in the first film) to lock down the Hive, Umbrella's secret base. Which was destroyed by a nuclear weapon in the second film. But it's still there, and still operational, because...uh...hey, look over there! (Insert sound of running footsteps here.) And yes, Wesker orders Red to lock down the Hive in four separate scenes. What, did the Red Queen just ignore him the first three times? Were they afraid the movie was going to come in under feature length? Did the ersatz Hugo Weaving playing Wesker make such huge salary demands that they had to include multiple takes of the same scene to stretch out his screen time?

It turns out that while Wesker's face-turn was a ruse, the Red Queen's isn't, and she's helping Alice reach the Hive so she can stop the world's entire population, reduced at this point to a mere 4000ish, from being killed in 48 hours.

Okay, so many things wrong here. Would you like me to list a few? I knew you would!

1) Why 48 hours? That seems an awfully exact time frame, there.
2) How, exactly, will they all die? Being the last survivors, they're presumably scattered all over the world, and in the more remote, inaccessible areas at that. What's going to happen that will kill them all essentially simultaneously?
3) Does that include the people in the Hive who are presumably doing this (however it is they're doing it)? We find out later that it doesn't, so when the Red Queen says the entire world's population will die, she's lying. Or writer Anderson can't make sense of his own script.
4) How the hell does the Red Queen even know how many people are left on the entire globe?

Okay, I'm gonna move on or we'll be here all day. It's only here, six movies in, that we finally, finally get an explanation for the two central mysteries of the franchise: why the filmmakers love The Matrix so much, and why these movies almost never have any black people.

No! I'm kidding. We find out why Alice has amnesia (in-universe, I mean; we all know the real reason is so they didn't have to write her backstory), and why Umbrella is so intent on destroying the world. Are you ready? Here it is: The world was fucked anyway, so Umbrella's fat-cat owners and higher-ups decided to release the T-virus on purpose to turn everybody into zombies and destroy the world on their terms rather than waiting for civilization to collapse on its own. That way, they ride out the terrors in cryonic suspension, release the cure they've developed once the human population has dropped to something more sustainable, and resume their positions atop the new society built from the ashes of the old.

That's actually kind of interesting, so of course the hacks who made this piece of shit immediately blow it. For one thing, notice what I said about when they release the cure. They actually didn't say that, I did, because that's what they ought to have said. But no, apparently their real plan is to wait until everybody's dead except for them. Hence the "48 hours and everybody dies" the Red Queen was talking about

Um, if everybody's dead, assholes, you don't have anybody to do the grunt work. The whole point of being rich and powerful is getting people to do shit for you. That's what being powerful means. If you kill all the plebs, you have to do everything for yourself! You're telling me these Kevin O'Leary types signed up for a plan that will require them to shovel horse shit out of the barn? Stupid movie.

So it turns out the PMSB we spent most of the movie with was also a clone, and so is Alice! Yep, that's why she doesn't have any memories of her past: She didn't have a past. She's just a clone of the daughter of the creator of the T-virus.

Again, a neat revelation...or it would be, if either the script or the central performance had any dramatic weight. Instead, we in the audience don't feel anything for this "character" we know nothing about, and Jovovich's blank stare isn't helping. There's no "It's me. With my mother" moment coming here. Funny though, ain't it, how the Alice clone has no memories that might serve to give her a personality but does know kung fu, shooting, explosives, and everything else she needs to fight the zombies? You could replace her with a robot programmed with nothing more than the mission "kill zombies" and the skills necessary to do that, and that robot would be indistinguishable from Alice. Hell, the original Terminator's entire personality consisted of "Kill Sarah Connor", and it had more character than Alice. And it was in only one film.

Alice is told that the cure instantly kills anyone infected with the T-virus on contact, which includes Alice herself. No, the T-virus doesn't turn her into a zombie like it does everyone else, what are you, stupid? Her it gives superpowers, obviously. (Except when it doesn't, like now.) Still, she manages to blow up the Hive real gud...uh, again...pausing for just a moment to rip off the climax of Robocop ("Dick? You're fired!") and release the cure into the air, whereupon...

...she awakens, not dead. Because, uh, the script says she doesn't die. I'm fucking serious. They don't even bother with an unbelievable, pulled-it-out-of-their-asses explanation. She wakes up and Expressionless Mannequin says, "Uh, I guess it didn't kill you", and they just move on.

Goddamn it I hate this movie.

Oh, and the creator's daughter managed to download her memories to the Red Queen before she died, and Red puts them in Alice's head...somehow. So Alice is now a real girl, with the all memories of some other person she just met five minutes ago. The film ends with Alice's voiceover that it will take months for the antivirus to spread all over the globe, meaning she has to keep fighting the zombies anyway

Wow, Resident Evil: Craptacular, that's a new fucking record, right there. I tip my hat to you, you've out done yourself! Every other time you waited for the next movie to contradict the end of the previous one, but this movie is so bad it contradicts its own fucking ending. Alice has spent 6 films fighting the zombies, only to find out she herself was a clone, and then she sacrificed her life to destroy the zombies. But disregard that! She didn't die, and the zombies aren't destroyed, and getting her memories back (well, someone else's memories) was such a mind-shattering, life-altering experience that she...goes off to fight the zombies.

Man, and you thought Sisyphus had it bad.

All this crap might be forgivable if the action scenes were any good, or if anything were any good, really. God, this movie is boring, even the "action" scenes. The film is edited so frenetically I don't think a single shot lasts for even one second, making most of the action sequences incomprehensible. I just don't get it. I know Paul W.S. "DOA: Dead or Alive" Anderson saw Mad Max: Fury Road. Does that movie consist of more shots than seconds of running time? Does it have a point where you sit scratching your head wondering, "What the fuck is happening?" Was it edited by a chipmunk on speed? So why edit your shitty rip-off like that? Just sit the editor down in front of Fury Road, point at the screen, and say, "Do that." Even if he fails utterly, the mere attempt would look better than this. I mean this shit is just balls. The earlier movies kept me pretty entertained throughout laughing at their sheer ineptitude, but this one is a major step down. I know that's hard to believe considering how shit the other films were, but this one...it's well-nigh unwatchable.

You know what this movie needed? Michelle Rodriguez. Christ, they brought back Poor Man's Sean Bean and Expressionless Mannequin, so why not somebody with energy, dynamism, charisma, attitude, sex appeal, credibility, toughness, skin pigmentation, and a modicum of acting talent, none of which is evident in Jovovich's Alice? I'd like to think Rodriguez had better things to do, like star in a new Fast and  Furious movie.

And yes, I'm absolutely serious about that.