Thursday, January 26, 2017

Resident Evil: Afterlife

2/4

Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Wentworth Miller, Shawn Roberts, Boris Kodjoe, Kim Coates

Rated R for Sequences of Strong Violence and Language

You know, for a movie franchise based on video games that essentially defined the "survival horror" genre, the "Resident Evil" movies aren't scary.  Nor, in fact, do they try to be.  At least I don't think so.  They're all about kicking zombie ass and looking totally stylish while doing so.  There's nothing wrong with that per se, it's just, well, they're not at all like the games (based on my limited experience).  I probably wouldn't even mention it if the films were any better, but alas they are at best ("Resident Evil: Apocalypse") stupid fun.  "Resident Evil: Afterlife" can't rise to that level, but at least it's better than the previous entry (the less said about that movie, the better).

After taking down the Umbrella Corporation's facility in Japan with a bunch of her clones (!), Alice (Jovovich) is stripped of all her newly evolved powers by Umbrella's resident psychopath, Albert Wesker (Roberts).  Having survived a plane crash that killed Wesker, Alice seeks out to find her friends, who she last saw four months ago heading for Alaska, where a safe haven known as Arcadia is said to reside.  But there's no sign of them or any city anywhere, and as she searches up and down the coast, she finds a group of survivors holed up in a Las Vegas jail.  Now, they have to figure out how to survive.  And to find Arcadia.

"Resident Evil: Afterlife" is one of those movies that feels like it's all set-up.  You sit there patiently waiting for the pieces to fall into place before the film takes off.  But it's only towards the end that you realize that what you thought was set-up is actually the meat of the movie.  Despite that, the film is more of a disappointment than a bad movie.  The action scenes are badass, and despite being trite and thinner than one-ply toilet paper, the story moves at a decent clip.

For whatever reason, Milla Jovovich decided to play her character on mute.  As Alice, she exhibits little of the spunk or, for lack of a better term, badassness, that made her so much fun to watch in the previous entries.  Ali Larter is in fine form as her friend Claire, Wentworth Miller acts intense (as usual) and Boris Kodjoe adds some sex appeal.  The menace is meant to be provided by Albert Wesker, but Shawn Roberts is a step down from Jason O'Mara.  He's not especially vicious.

Paul W.S. Anderson essentially divides the film into two parts: the action scenes and everything else.  The former are fun.  The latter not as much.  The action scenes are an exercise in style and adrenaline, even if they give new meaning to the term "ridiculous."  Sure, having a bunch of Milla Jovovich clones running around shooting people (sometimes from a bungee jump) looks awesome, but is it credible?  Not at all.  Whether this prevents enjoyment is something I will leave up to you.

Now let's hope the sequels are better.

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