The first Resident Evil film may not have made critics falling over themselves to praise the film as a masterpiece of zombie cinema. Yet the film did the business where it truly counts – it made over $100 million at the box office on a budget of $30 million. A decent enough return for them to go at it again. The film was still written by Paul W.S. Anderson but he was too busy directing a film about Aliens and Predators to direct this so it was time for long-time Second Unit Director Alexander Witt to make his directorial debut (and as of 2020, his only directorial effort). Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, with Sienna Guillory giving life to Jill Valentine and Oded Fehr as Carlos Oliveira – marking the first time characters from the games started to bleed into the film franchise.

Apocalypse takes place after the events of the first film – with a flashback explaining how the infection managed to break out in Raccoon City. In short, Umbrella reopened the Hive and the zombies escaped. Good job Umbrella! Their response is to evacuate all their important staff out of the city and then shut it down. Initially they were slowly letting people leave but when an infected starts chomping down on one of the soldier’s legs – the leader of the Umbrella forced in Raccoon City and Definitely Evil Major Timothy Cain (Thomas Kretschmann) closes the gates, leaving behind every citizen and Umbrella guard left in the city.

Two of these people include Jill Valentine and Sgt. Wells – the man whose leg was a snack for the infected earlier. Meanwhile we see the ending of the first film again with Alice escaping an Umbrella facility and wandering the streets of Raccoon City. A second meanwhile, Cain tells wheelchair-bound scientist Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris) to leave but he elects to stay – his daughter was caught up in a crash during evacuation and she is stuck in the city, hiding out in her school. He hacks into the city’s CCTVs in order to find his daughter as well as any survivors who look like they can handle themselves.

Valentine, Wells and a journalist Terri Morales hide out in a church where they meet some guy (I don’t believe he got a name) who is initially upset that they are in HIS hiding spot. He dies a few minutes later after the church is attacked by multiple lickers and Valentine discovers that a priest has been feeding his infected sister delicious people. Yum yum. However, as they fight off the lickers, Valentine and Wells run out of ammo – luckily out of nowhere Alice comes in on a motorcycle and takes out the creatures with some sick kung fu and a couple of bullets for good measure.

The gang escape the infested church and are wandering along when Alice notices Well’s limp and realises he’s infected. Jill stops Alice from shooting her friend but Alice warns that when he turns she will either have to kill him or he will kill them all. They then pass several ringing phones, Alice attempts to ignore them but eventually gives in and answers the phone. It’s Dr. Ashford and he wants to make a deal – if the gang rescue his daughter Angela, he will aid them in their escape. Seeing no other option, Alice and the gang reluctantly agree. However, they are interrupted by the appearance of the Nemesis.

The Nemesis was hinted at during the final scenes in the first film – when they take Matt they tell them to put him on the Nemesis program. Could this be our old friend Matt? Yes! He’s now an unstoppable killing machine – we see evidence of this when he kills a dozen S.T.A.R.S. soldiers with a minigun without touching the civilian L.J. Wade (Mike Epps). He shows up later. So anyway, Alice decides to run straight into Nemesis to allow everyone else to escape – except Wells who is shot several times and is dead now. Nemesis chases after Alice as Cain watches on – interested in the result of this particular match. Their superhuman mutant experiment versus Alice. Who wins? Well no one, despite Nemesis throwing everything, including multiple rockets, at her she manages to escape.

Jill, Terri and their new friend L.J. who they pick up on the way (Jill saves L.J. from being dinner at the beginning of the film so he’s a little indebted to her) find the school where Angela is hiding out. They split up. Jill finds a former Umbrella soldier Nicholai and L.J. finds Carlos Oliveira but all Terri finds is death at the hands of zombie schoolchildren. Nicholai sacrifices himself to fend off zombie dogs and Jill finds Angela hiding in a classroom. They take Terri’s camcorder and go to leave but are cornered by more zombie dogs. With the help of some gas cookers and a well timed smoke break from Alice, they successfully rescue Angela.

As everyone unites for the first time, Alice can tell that Angela is infected right away – and vice versa. Turns out Dr. Ashford created the T-Virus to regenerate cells in Angela to allow her to walk after spending most of her early life on crutches. She keeps the virus in check with the anti-virus. Alice seems to be fine with her infection but Carlos was bitten by a former buddy of his earlier in the film. Luckily, Angela has a stash of the anti-virus to give to Carlos.

After letting Dr. Ashford talk to his daughter, he informs them that their escape isn’t going to be that easy – a helicopter is due to leave Raccoon City just before Umbrella completely annihilates the city with a nuclear bomb. The twist is that they need to hijack that heli. They make it there, defeating several Umbrella guard and reach the helicopter – where Alice realises what this chopper was about to extract – the Nemesis. However, before being able to escape they are captured by Major Cain. You could say he’s been a Major Cain in the butt. You also shouldn’t say that!

Cain had also captured Dr. Ashford and had a request for Alice – fight the Nemesis one on one in unarmed combat or else he’ll start killing her friends. She responds all cool like “what makes you think I care?” and Cain is so impressed with how bad ass she is he immediately shoots Dr. Ashford dead. Turns out she cares a lot. She agrees to fight the Nemesis, who is physically larger and stronger but she’s smart and quick. At one point the Nemesis pull out a metal support from a building to use as a weapon – but leaves a sharp section sticking out. This would prove to be his undoing – Cain evens the odds by giving Alice a baton and she eventually kicks Nemesis into the sharp spike.

She then has flashbacks to the first movie and all the good times she had with Matt in those two hours. Cain asks her to finish the job and to kill what he felt was the inferior experiment in the Nemesis but she refuses to kill her friend-turned-unstoppable monster. Cain remarks that she’s wasting her strength on not working alongside him at Umbrella and goes to make his escape. However, Carlos and Jill escape from their cuffs and L.J. takes the helicopter, punching Cain out. Better yet, the Nemesis face turn is complete as he helps Alice fight off a few more guards and helicopters before he gets flattened by the wreckage of one.

Alice and the gang take over the chopper and as he make their ascend, Alice throws Cain out where he is promptly eaten by the now zombified Dr. Ashford. The nuke lands though and while it wipes out Raccoon City, the shockwave takes the helicopter down. Umbrella find the wreckage but the only body there is Alice’s – who took a large piece of metal and sacrificing herself instead of Angela. Alice is taken back to an Umbrella laboratory where she is experimented on more, bringing her back to life but briefly causing her to lose all memories. It wasn’t until the doctor asked her name that her memories flooded back to her and she recognised the doctor as one Alexander Isaacs (Iain Glen), the scientist behind the experiments. She escapes and is rescued by her pals Jill, Carlos, L.J. and Angela – but while their attempts at disguising themselves failed, Isaacs orders the guards to let them go. Project Alice is live and is a set up for the next film.

The middle movie – usually goes one of two ways. It can go the Empire Strikes Back/The Last Jedi way and offer an interesting twist or story beat that sets up nicely for the next movie to carry forward (sometimes unsuccessfully). Or it can go the route of Attack of the Clones and be an underwhelming bridge between films. This is the latter, it’s entire purpose seems to be to set up the next film while completely wasting the Nemesis along the way.

I’m not saying it’s completely unenjoyable though, I think some of the action is fun and now that I’m going in expecting an action flick instead of a horror one I can get behind it a little more. It’s not really a worthwhile movie to watch but if there’s nothing on and you just want a mindless action movie to chow down some popcorn to – Resident Evil: Apocalypse is there for you.

As someone who has only played the first Resident Evil, I am disappointed that the Jill Valentine here barely shows any of the skills that makes her the master of unlocking. In fact, why could they not have had the greatest character in horror game history – PS1 Barry Burton – in this movie. I want a live action Resident Evil movie but with PS1 Barry Burton in it. This is a free idea for the inevitable reboot, you are welcome. So yeah, they’ve started to add in a couple of characters from the games – something they’ll continue doing over the next few films as well.

There isn’t a lot to really critique here – nothing is great but it’s such a mindless movie to go in-depth in what it does wrong can be succinctly summed by just gently motioning to all of the film and then shrugging a little. The Nemesis feels like it should have been built up a little more, the editing is insane in parts which is really distracting once you notice it, Alice still has no character and they do try and add in some comic relief but then as soon as he becomes one of the gang he loses his personality real quick.

However this is a 90 minute film, so it doesn’t really drag on too long and it’s an easy film to switch off for. Sometimes that’s enough to give it a pass. Not a good grade, but a pass. I really feel like I’m at a point now where I have seen so many of these video game adaptations that I’m giving points to a film that barely tries to do anything interesting. What am I becoming?


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