Resident Evil: The Final Chapter titularly purports to be the last film in the winningly berserk zombie franchise, but that has often been an empty promise when it comes to the horror genre (see: 1984’s Jason Friday the 13th: The Final Chapter or, for that matter, 1993’s Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday).
The truth is that Resident Evil overlord Paul W.S. Anderson tends to treat each Resident Evil adventure as if it was the last anyway, a spray-everything-at-the-wall approach which helps gift the series its off-the-rails charm. No patient world-builder, Anderson is a man given to killing off promising characters in one film only to revive them in unlikely fashion further down the line and setting up future plots at the end of movie only to ignore that track-laying in the subsequent chapter. For example, at the end of the franchise’s previous entry, 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution, Milla Jovovich’s heroine Alice combined with the evil Umbrella Corporation to defend the White House from a horde of the undead. However, those who have waited five years to see the ensuing inside-the-Beltway bloodbath will be disappointed. At the start of Resident Evil: The Final Chaper Alice is still in Washington but on her own, with barely a zombie in sight. Instead of depicting, or even describing, the mayhem promised in Retribution, writer-director Anderson has computer system the Red Queen convince Alice to return to Umbrella’s underground complex The Hive, where the zombie outbreak originated and where, Jovovich’s character is promised, she will find a vial of liquid McGuffin capable of annihilating every zombie on the face of the planet. Along the way, Alice is captured by Iain Glen’s villainous Dr. Isaacs—who looks hale and hearty, particularly for a man who was killed back in 2007’s Resident: Evil Extinction—and reteams with Ali Larter’s Claire Redfield to kick more zombie butt in a kinetic if somewhat familiar fashion.
We are also introduced to a new group of survivors—including one played by the suddenly omnipresent Ruby Rose—whose collected character traits could be written on the back of a matchbook while still leaving plenty of space for something which would fill the back of a matchbook.
Once the film relocates to the Hive, however, Anderson starts in earnest to tie up the franchise’s assorted plot strands, a task as difficult as attempting to craft a sweater out of overcooked noodles, but one which he comes close to accomplishing. The climax makes for a satisfying conclusion to the franchise—an ending which this writer expects, and even hopes, all concerned will studiously ignore when they get around to making the next one.