Resident Evil: The Final Chapter movie review

'Resident Evil: The Final Chapter' is a fitting end to a fun, but flawed series

If there’s anything that the success of the Resident Evil franchise has proven, it’s that the slow and steady approach can indeed win the race.

Throughout the course of five films, the live-action movie series inspired by the hit game franchise has churned out one modestly performing film after another, each earning just enough to justify a sequel but never enough to be classified – either collectively or individually – as bona fide hits. It’s a strategy that has served the franchise well, and somewhere along the way Resident Evil became Hollywood’s most successful movie franchise based on a video game.

Now, nearly 15 years after the original Resident Evil hit theaters, the sci-fi horror saga reaches its bloody conclusion with Resident Evil: The Final Chapter.

Given the path the series took to get to this point, it probably shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that the grand finale has everything you’d expect from a Resident Evil movie, and still falls short of its potential.

Jovavich still manages to make a convincing action hero in The Final Chapter.

Directed by franchise originator Paul WS Anderson, who directed the original 2002 film and the last two sequels, The Final Chapter has series star Milla Jovavich – whose character, Alice, has been the one constant throughout all six films – once again battling the diabolical machinations of the sinister Umbrella Corporation. This time around, Alice is forced to return to the underground facility where her horrific adventure began and recover the one thing that can protect the last human settlement on Earth from the creatures created by the deadly T-Virus unleashed in the first film.

Also returning for the series’ swan song is Heroes actress Ali Larter as fellow survivor Claire Redfield, Shawn Roberts as the manipulative villain Albert Wesker, and Game of Thrones actor Iain Glen as the sinister Umbrella Corporation executive Dr. Alexander Isaacs. Notable newcomers in the final installment include Orange is the New Black actress Ruby Rose and Merlin actor Eoin Macken as two members of a small group of survivors Alice encounters on her return to the post-apocalyptic remains of Raccoon City, where the events of the original Resident Evil unfolded.

As with most (if not all) of the films in the franchise, the story that propels The Final Chapter forward is frustratingly disjointed, and the narrative gets off to a shaky start by immediately jumping ahead to the aftermath of the massive battle teased in the final scene from 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution – cheating the audience on a much-anticipated sequence.

Fortunately, that fractured narrative is only a problem when the action slows down enough to think about what brought Alice to this point – and that doesn’t happen often. The Resident Evil movies have typically unfolded as a series of fast-paced, CG-driven set pieces filled with wirework and highly choreographed action, strung together with the bare minimum of narrative thread, and The Final Chapter is no exception. It relies far more on these tricks than the last two movies.

Even after five films, Jovavich still manages to make a convincing action hero in The Final Chapter, and the film makes a fairly convincing argument that there might not be a Resident Evil franchise without her serving as the unifying – and butt-kicking – thread that runs through it. Make no mistake: The Resident Evil games provide the foundation for the movie franchise, but Jovavich carries it.

Still, there’s an underlying sense that all of those battles with mutated monsters and physics-defying fight sequences are beginning to catch up to Jovavich’s Alice.

Each of the previous installments of the franchise featured one or two fantastic, standout sequences that made that particular chapter of Alice’s saga memorable – and given how much the films bled into each other narratively, these sequences often helped differentiate one film from the next. A set piece featuring a seemingly infinite number of Alice clones assaulting the Umbrella Corporation’s high-rise headquarters in Tokyo was one of the defining sequences in 2010’s Resident Evil: Afterlife, for example, while Alice’s battle with a pair of gigantic, axe-wielding behemoths on a New York City street was a centerpiece of 2012’s Resident Evil: Retribution.

That sort of sequel-defining set piece is conspicuously absent from The Final Chapter, which relies too heavily on Jovavich’s character battling various CG creatures that are relatively indistinguishable from each other. Where many of the previous films had at least one, wild sequence that made up for the film’s flaws in other areas, The Final Chapter keeps its audience waiting for that moment and then ends without ever really providing it.

It provides everything you expect from a Resident Evil movie, but still falls short of its potential.

The same can be said for Larter’s character, who stole the spotlight from Jovavich’s Alice with some memorable sequences in the earlier films, only to be a forgotten character in The Final Chapter.

As the film’s primary villain, Glen is an appropriately cold and calculating antagonist, but all of the build-up to his winner-take-all confrontation with Jovavich’s Alice never pays off. If their brawl is indeed the final conflict in the franchise, it feels under-played and anticlimactic, particularly given how wild some of the prior films’ third-act showdowns have been.

It’s also unfortunate that The Final Chapter doesn’t bid a more formal farewell to some of its popular characters that appeared in past films – such as Sienna Guillory’s Jill Valentine, Wentworth Miller’s Chris Redfield, or Li Bingbing’s Ada Wong. After the previous two films spent so much time establishing their characters – in some cases right up until the final moments – their absence in The Final Chapter creates a void.

Although it lacks a memorable action sequence and some of the other elements that feel obligatory for a franchise-ending film, The Final Chapter still manages to sufficiently end the series. It hits most of the beats expected by fans of the franchise while wrapping up the over-arching story of Alice and the Umbrella Corporation.

Whether it actually turns out to be the final chapter in the franchise remains to be seen, but if that’s the case, The Final Chapter sends the Resident Evil franchise out on an appropriately modest – far from great – note, and that seems just about right. At this point, what more can we expect?

Gaming

‘Final Fantasy VII Remake’ director sets record straight on game’s progress

Final Fantasy VII Remake director Tetsuya Nomura clarified some information about the game's progress. There were earlier reports that the RPG was put on hold in favor of Kingdom Hearts III, but that is apparently not the case.
Gaming

Your PlayStation 4 game library isn't complete without these games

Looking for the best PS4 games out there? Out of the massive crop of titles available, we selected the best you should buy. No matter what your genre of choice may be, there's something here for you.
Gaming

These are the best Xbox One games available right now

More than four years into its life span, Microsoft's latest console is finally coming into its own. From 'Cuphead' to 'Halo 5,' the best Xbox One games offer something for everyone.
Movies & TV

Winter coming in spring? HBO reveals 'Game of Thrones' season 8 premiere date

With the eighth and final season looming, Game of Thrones fever has officially become a pandemic. Our list of all the relevant news and rumors will help make the wait more bearable, if you don't mind spoilers.
Home Theater

What’s new on Amazon Prime Video (December 2018)

Amazon Prime Video adds new titles each month that are available for free to all Prime members. Check out our list to find all the content hitting Amazon Prime Video in November and December 2018, from new original series to classic films.
Podcasts

Remembering Stan Lee, Fantastic Beasts 2 review, Apple goes Hollywood

This week on Between the Streams, we'll discuss the passing of comics and entertainment legend Stan Lee, a spoiler-free review of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald, Apple's new partnership with indie movie studio A24, and more.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'The Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘The Good Place’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Deals

College sports are yours to watch live online with an ESPN+ free trial

It can be difficult to catch all the college games, especially for smaller conferences. Well, thanks to ESPN+ that’s no longer the case. Now, you won't need to miss any of your alma mater rival games.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in November, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to ‘Dracula’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Deals

You can now watch soccer games online with streaming service ESPN+

Launched back in April, ESPN+ is a direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service. For a mere $5 a month or $50 per year, you can have access to the best sports content available including multiple soccer leagues.
Movies & TV

Out of movies to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Deals

Cyber Monday 2018: When it takes place and where to find the best deals

Cyber Monday is still a ways off, but it's never too early to start planning ahead. With so many different deals to choose from during one of the biggest shopping holidays of the year, going in with a little know-how makes all the…
Movies & TV

The best new movie trailers: ‘Alita: Battle Angel,’ ‘Detective Pikachu,’ and more

Everyone loves a good trailer, but keeping up with what's new isn't easy. That's why we round up the best ones for you. This week, it's new trailers for cyberpunk adventure Alita: Battle Angel, game adaptation Pokémon Detective Pikachu…