So Extinction was terrible. A boring entry in a film franchise that was quickly showing that it had no idea what it wanted to be. However, we’re at the fourth attempt now and that is somewhat of a lucky number for Resident Evil. The game Resident Evil 4 is still considered to be one of the greatest games of all time, horror or otherwise. A beloved entry into the series, albeit one I’ve never played (I’ve only played the OG Resident Evil). it still gives me a glimpse of hope that maybe that will inspire Resident Evil: Afterlife to greatness. However, this is doubtful considering that RE4 was at least preceded by three other good games and Afterlife…wasn’t. Plus this is the one I saw with my friend when it came out. I have no memory of this film at all, other than it had “that girl who was in Heroes” in it – Ali Larter making her return as Claire Redfield. So, will inject some new life into the series and make me no longer regret the choice of trying to watch all six films consecutively? Let’s find out.

We start with the origins of the outbreak in Tokyo, Japan as a girl turns in the middle of the busy street causing mass panic etc. It then cuts to four years later as Alice narrates the tl;dr version of the events of the films so far – Umbrella bad, caused the apocalypse, hiding underground, still experimenting. We are then treated to a lengthy but action packed sequence of the army of Alices from the end of Extinction attacking the underground Umbrella facility where their chairman Albert Wesker (now played by Shawn Roberts, an actor who is not afraid to get a little hammy with the role. This is not a complaint).

Despite Wesker’s disregard for his own employee’s safety and ordering them all to defend the facility against the Alice Clones, they soon find their way to Wesker himself. He manages to shoot one as she descends from high above and the other when she lands, however she had pulled the pin off a grenade as her dying wish was to blow the heck out of Wesker. It didn’t come true as he just about escapes in a fancy tiltrotor (I only learned that’s what they’re called today, thanks Wikipedia!). Wesker, because he is evil, detonates an emergency bomb that not only wipes out the Alice Army, but also the facility and about half of the city as well, leaving a giant crater in his wake. Satisfied with a job well done, Wesker flies off to be smarmy elsewhere.

Except the REAL Alice has snuck on board and manages to sneak up to Wesker to put a gun to his head. However, she’s become too much of an action movie character and her little “last words?” to Albert gives him time to suddenly inject her with a serum that essentially removes the T-Virus from her body. Meaning her powers are gone. Albert, however, now possesses the same level of powers Alice had. Alice says thank you to Wesker for “making her human again” just in time for Wesker to remember he’s meant to be flying the tiltrotor but it’s too late and it crashes into a mountain. Alice manages to walk away from the burning wreckage. This is the first 16 minutes of the movie and it’s already more exciting and interesting than Extinction.

We cut to a few months later. Alice is flying a plane over Alaska looking for the infection-free settlement known as Arcadia but she is having no luck. She does find a plane graveyard full of abandoned vehicles including the Umbrella branded helicopter that Claire, K-Mart and the gang escaped. However, she does not find any sign of actual life anywhere. She records her vlog and while lamenting that she might just be the last person alive on Earth, a figure speeds past her. Alice chases the figure and, after coming face to face with a small murder of crows, finds a crazed Claire Redfield who attacks Alice but is quickly overpowered by our heroine. Claire had a robot spider on her chest which evidently injecting Claire with some kind of drug to make her act in that way – she has no memory of who she is or Alice.

Alice brings Claire onto her plane as they fly away from Alaska. Eventually Claire starts to talk to Alice but confirms that she has no idea who she or Alice is. They fly over the now destroyed Los Angeles, with no hope of seeing actual life anywhere until they find a rooftop with a few actual human beings as well as a giant HELP ME written on the roof. After some expert flying (some might call it falling with style personally) Alice lands the plane on the roof, much to the delight of the survivors who believe she has been sent by Arcadia to rescue them. We are introduced to a couple of new characters like Luther West, celebrity basketballer turned zombie outbreak survivor and Angel Ortiz. Alice has to break the bad news to them – there is no Arcadia. However they have been receiving the same transmissions as she did back in the day, furthermore they have been trying to get their attention by sending flares up. After Alice remarks on how were they expecting them to see said flares from Alaska and that no town called Arcadia actually exists, Luther and Angel show her through the binoculars that Arcadia is not only within sight but it’s actually a ship. However, they have not sent a transmission in two days after the last one mysteriously cut off at the end. No one seems to worry about it.

Luther wins the Most Likable Newcomer award. He doesn’t have a lot of competition.

Alice shares the exciting news with Claire who begins to get her memories back – she remembers landing on the beach and being picked up by people but she does not remember how she ended up left behind on the beach. Alice gets acquainted with her new quarters and meets the rest of the team full of failed actresses, big-time movie producer and his hapless intern. However the big new S.T.A.R. of the team is a prisoner by the name of Chris (Wentworth Miller). He claims he’s been held by mistake and that he also knows a way to break out of the prison facility they are in. A weird role for Miller to play a jail escaper but let’s see if he can pull it off.

His initial offer to Alice – letting him go in exchange of escaping to Arcadia – is ignored. However, when one of the survivors tries to creep on Alice as she takes a shower, they are attacked by infected who managed to infiltrate into the facility. Wendell is taken into the sewers and the gang decide they need to skedaddle immediately. After a small debate, they decide to free Chris in hopes he can help them become correctional facility deserters. As he is let out of his cell he finally gets a glimpse of Claire, who turns out to be his sister – not that she remembers him at all. However, the Redfields are reunited at last.

We are now in the section of a Resident Evil film I like to call The Kill Off. The rules are simple – if you’re not important you’re going to die in the next twenty minutes. So let’s see what the final tally is by the end of the second paragraph follow this one.

So Chris tells them of his plan – there’s an armory full of guns in the facility and an armoured anti-riot tank in the garage. Plan: load up on guns, bring your friends it’s fun to drive over zombies and pretend you’ve got a chance of survival. Chris and Alice go to the armory, but the way there is flooded. They are joined by the failed actress Crystal who tags along due to her history as a swim champion. The three successfully make their way through the water and to the armory where Crystal is grabbed by the infected (it’s the one with the four tongues that grabs you) and dragged underwater. That’s one. Chris and Alice are almost swarmed by zombies but they make it into the armory and stock up, escaping through the vents.

Meanwhile Angel cuts through the lock to get into the garage along with film producer Bennett and his intern Kim Yong. While they successfully make it into the garage, the engine is not installed in the tank. Angel estimates it could take a week for them to install it and Bennett, whose entire character is being a giant penis of a man, shoots Angel in the head as he has his own genius plan of stealing the plane which only seats two. That’s two. Meanwhile Claire and Luther hold off the horde of zombies outside including a big dude with an axe. However, despite their efforts, the zombies get in so they make a hasty retreat, making it to the roof just in time for Bennett to fly off leaving everyone – including his conflicted intern – behind. While it looks like he could be number three, he manages to quickly correct the plane’s path and flies off to safety.

The plan is now to use the sewers that the infected used to crawl their way into the facility. Chris and Luther go in first but Kim Yong’s scarediness comes back to haunt him as he gets sliced in half by the big dude. He’ll regret that one in the morning and also he’s lucky number three. Alice and Claire manage to fight off the big colossus and head down the hole where they catch up with Luther. As Chris helps Alice and Claire land from the hole and into the storm gate, Luther gets grabbed by a zombie which causes the hole to seal up with rocks and thus the most likable new character is no longer with us. That’s four ladies and gentlemen! The kill off ends at four! Whoever had four please come forward and collect your winnings! Don’t be shy, I won’t bite, unlike the zombies in this film *canned laughter* have I mentioned this I’m writing this during a particularly bad bout of insomnia?

Alice, Chris and Claire take a boat ride to Arcadia but as kinda expected at this point it is completely barren, bar the crashed plane that Bennett obviously failed to land – no body suggests to the gang that he’s alive somewhere. They find the ship’s crew logs – three days ago the crew left on the lifeboats but the computer shows over 2,000 survivors are still on board. Down in the brig they find a huge clean and sterile room behind a door with the Umbrella logo on it but no survivors. Alice has a gut feeling that the survivors are underneath them – they find a future iPad and their feelings were right. All the survivors were in an induced cryogenic sleep in tubes including K-Mart from the last movie. They wake her up and while Claire tends to K-Mart’s robot spider problem, Chris and Alice are tasked with freeing everyone else.

However, Alice senses something is wrong – the large amount of blood everywhere kinda clues her in. She goes further into the ships facility, passing a purge bomb along the way. Chris follows far behind. Alice makes it to the final room where he is met with the silhouetto of a man – Wesker is alive. Not only that but a clearly infected Bennett points a gun at Alice’s head and makes her drop her guns. Wesker counted on Alice finding his facility as he’s been keeping tabs on Alice throughout the movie via satelite. He needs Alice as he is struggling to bond with the T-Virus which is causing a biological war within his body for control. He wants to “ingest Alice’s DNA” as she was the only one who truly bonded with the T-Virus. Alice says no and a fight breaks out after the Redfields join the party.

Wesker’s pet zombie dogs get killed but Albert manages to capture the Redfields and send them into the cryogenic tubes. Alice and Wesker have another tussle but every time Alice thinks Albert is down and out he gets back up. He’s got super dodging abilities, he’s got weird tentacles that come out of his mouth. He survives a knife to the head, a shotgun blast to the head and eventually he survives about 30 bullets to the chest from the Redfields once Alice sets them free. After thinking they’ve killed Wesker for good, they lock Bennett behind only for him to be killed by a mysterious beastly being.

After freeing everyone on the ship, a tiltrotor leaves the ship as we cut to a very smug looking Wesker making his escape. He goes to purge the ship like he did with the Tokyo facility but Alice was one step ahead – planting the bomb on the tiltrotor thus blowing Wesker up for good(? (I mean I know his actor is in the next two films already sooooo)). We even get to see a happier ending as Luther makes his way out of the drain! Everyone who cashed in after The Kill Off I’m afraid you’re gonna have to return your winnings as only three died during The Kill Off, I’m so sorry. The film ends with Alice making the first legit call for survivors to get into contact with Arcadia but this gets the attention of a battalion of Umbrella tiltrotors as A Perfect Circle plays to end the film, which is ironic because this film has not even come close to coming full circle and it’s anything but perfect.

I’m trying a new thing where I take regular breaks during watching the movie in order to write a few paragraphs and the result is over 2,000 words on summarising a Resident Evil movie plot holy crap I am so sorry. However…I, um, thought this was okay. I won’t go as far as to say I liked it, but I didn’t take three weeks to watch this one so that’s one hell of an improvement. I thought there was a better balance between actual film and action, there was more interesting set pieces and things happened in this one at a much better pace than Extinction.

This was Paul W.S. Anderson’s return to the director’s seat of Resident Evil since the first movie – though he was involved in the writing of the other two he didn’t direct. It is very obvious that he is very much back in total control because this movie has elements from the first that was missing from the last two – mainly the fact that there is a lot of action and lots of Milla Jovovich defying gravity during fight scenes (and to be fair, Luther and Claire get into the action of ridiculous jumping too). I know there is one person who will read this who will hate me for saying this (hi, Blake!) but Anderson’s directing style makes this Resident Evil film so much more palatable and entertaining than the previous two. Shoot me down and bury me in dirt if you have to, but Paul W.S. Anderson – you’ve saved the Resident Evil film franchise for me!

Resident Evil Afterlife movie image Milla Jovovich

The film still sucks but by virtue of it following Extinction it might as well be a masterpiece in my eyes. There were times when I was bopping along to the OST – it had some industrial rock vibes that I can sort of get behind. It’s still not quite what I would expect from a Resident Evil piece of media but they even managed to fit in a jump scare. It was well telegraphed so it didn’t “get” me but I appreciated the effort to try and add an element of horror to this action film. So yeah, I really found this to be watchable. My standards have admittedly fallen so low that “watchable” is worthy of great praise but I didn’t vow to watch every video game movie without realising that this would happen to me.

I can give it props for having a bit more action, a bit more charisma (Luther is a likable character, Wentworth Miller puts in a confident performance) and finally giving us Wesker at his best. Wesker is a joy whenever he’s on screen – he’s SO over the top as an evil smarmy villain that he almost Raul Julia’s this film. Like how Raul Julia earned Street Fighter an extra star on his own. Except we don’t see him for a large chunk of the movie and whenever he’s not around things get a little dull. He’s the most interesting character in the entire cast so far and I look forward to seeing more Wesker.

However the biggest problem of the franchise continues to be Alice. Milla Jovovich is never going to be the best actress but she can be okay in the right role. The problem with revolving the entire franchise around Alice is that’s she just not that interesting of a character. They teased something interesting – when Wesker removed the T-Virus from her blood thus removing her mega super powers. Finally, she might seem vulnerable and beatable – making fight scenes with her more tense. Nope. Even losing her powers she still has no problem kicking ass and again there is no real sense of danger that she might lose a fight. At no point has she ever looked weak – her friends die around her so that she doesn’t have to take any losses in a fight and four movies in she might as well just be a god already because she ain’t losing a fight to make the final confrontation more memorable – she’s booked to win every match. She’s 2003 Triple H except WORSE.

There’s no need for this to be a six-film franchise and even though this did bring Resident Evil back to life for me at least, it definitely feels like they are happy enough going from trope to trope without every really stretching their creative muscles. Like if they are running of ideas by film four, how on Earth are they going to think up stuff for films five and six? It just doesn’t fill me with confidence – even if I will admit that maybe having no ideas did this film better than if they actually tried.

Overall, Resident Evil Afterlife is a dumb movie that I felt was dumb enough that I could just about enjoy but as soon as I post this review I will never think about this film ever again. It’s one of those. I think Extinction brought my expectation on this franchise so low that by virtue of being somewhat watchable has made me think this film is better than it is. However, I can only give my opinions and this might currently be my favourite of the franchise so far. Wesker is a joy and he brings up the score for me anytime he gets to be Wesker – thank god they changed actors because Shawn Roberts feels more natural in the role for me. It should be hammed up to heck and he does exactly that. However, it is let down by a boring plot and a main character that by all rights should not be able to carry a $1 billion film franchise but this feels like the world’s most mediocre rollercoaster that is just hit a 50ft drop on the third film and now we’re on our way up. We’re like, 3ft up, but it’s still up and that’s good enough for me.

FINAL SCORE

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