There’s an old saying that goes something like: “Empires always fall.” In history, the statement holds true; those who hold power want more power, and empires tend to stretch themselves out too far. Additionally, they tend to not understand the cultures of those countries they wrest control from, thus creating more tension. In a similar fashion, video game franchises and, in this case, movie franchises often follow the same dark and tired path.
We’ve seen the ups and downs of Final Fantasy and the rise and decline of Call of Duty. Assassin’s Creed experienced the same fallout before Ubisoft understood its faults. Resident Evil, particularly with its sixth numbered installation, grew so boisterous that the franchise knew not how to advance. Likewise, Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil film franchise continued to grow with the games, grabbing inspiration from its newer and, arguably, weaker entries. Fifteen years from the original Resident Evil film, Anderson decided to complete his saga with The Final Chapter.
Before I delve into the film, I’d like to reiterate: fifteen years. When Resident Evil hit the big screens in 2002, I was thirteen. Throughout the years, with each subsequent release, I enjoyed film after film. Even the weaker entries into the series weren’t terrible, and some of the latter films piqued my particular interests. I am a fan of Shawn Roberts’ interpretation of Albert Wesker, and I am a fan of Iain Glen. Introducing the various characters from the games into the films worked well, and I enjoyed the portrayals of Jill, Carlos, and Barry (Leon was all right). With the sixth film ending with an interesting twist—Albert Wesker appeared to recruit protagonist Alice in order to save the world—I was ready to see one of my favorite villains right his wrongs. This is where The Final Chapter went all sorts of wrong, however.
For me, I felt like the script of The Final Chapter must have been scrapped or completely re-imagined at some point during the planning process. Characters who had been “confirmed” to be in the film weren’t, and the characters in the film were some of the weakest in the series. If Anderson did one thing right during his tenure with Resident Evil, it would have to be creating mostly believable, fairly deep characters. It may have taken a film or two for a character to reach that level of development, but, on the whole, it was mostly there.
In The Final Chapter, characters appear and disappear at the whim of Anderson. Weak attempts at making characters believable or relatable were made, but they were forced. Other characters joined Alice’s ragtag band of misfits, but they died as quickly as they joined. The only purpose any new character served in The Final Chapter was for killing purposes. It was like Anderson had some great big idea and realized it could never work in the two hour time frame of The Final Chapter, but the severe lack of characterization in a horror and action movie isn’t even the worst part.
No, the weakest pieces of The Final Chapter came in its twisted representation of established characters and laughably bad plot. To begin, Albert Wesker has seemingly lost all of his super abilities. Remember, this is allegedly the same Wesker infected with the Plagas virus, or, at the minimum, the same Wesker who had similar abilities to superhuman Alice. In The Final Chapter, we have an Albert Wesker who can’t move out of the way of a falling door, and even then, he perishes from severed legs—when he was okay to a shotgun blast to the mouth.
Compounding matters are the glaring plot holes. Iain Glen’s villainous Dr. Isaacs has the ability to calculate and counter every “threat” sent his way. He’s able to calculate bullet danger potential and trajectory, and he’s able to act on those calculations. He dodges bullets like Neo from The Matrix, and his programming makes sense. Unfortunately, as he battles Alice, he is caught fully off guard by the grenade she stuffs into his pocket. So, he takes a grenade to the gut, and all of this is forgivable because he still manages to survive and heal from said grenade wound. Unfortunately, minutes later, he is stabbed to death by approximately four knife thrusts to his gut that he apparently neither saw coming nor could stop to heal from. I had to ask how someone could survive a grenade explosion to the gut, heal, and perish from a few knife stabs.
Even if I get past that particular issue, I have to argue that Alice’s arrival at the original Umbrella den was highly improbable. Every step of Alice’s journey is documented by Wesker, and he sends a warning to an Umbrella operative working with Claire Redfield. In his warning, Wesker asks the operative to keep tabs on Alice in order to ruin her chances of getting to the den. When you discover that the operative is Doc, the very same character who saved Alice, you have to ask: Why didn’t he let the poison finish her off? Why didn’t he pretend to cure her and say there was nothing he could do?
To summarize, The Final Chapter had its moments of success. Nearly every step of the way, however, Anderson sabotaged himself and his film. The clone narrative, erasure of character canon, and absolutely trashy and cheesy dialogue all add up to make this the worst Resident Evil film of the franchise. I’m almost disappointed that The Final Chapter is ending the saga because it means that the franchise will die on the weakest attempt of a Resident Evil film. From a long time supporter of the films, The Final Chapter felt like the ultimate insult: a piss on the fifteen years I spent watching the series (the ignoring of most content from most of the films) and that cliched and metaphorical slap to the face.