quick review - Resident Evil: Afterlife

Say what you will about Paul W.S. Anderson, but he’s no hack. Among the directors who repeatedly pilfer from the Washowskis for stylish, well-staged, effects-laden action, he carves a nice B-movie niche for himself in much the same way Roger Corman did with horror flicks. However, while Anderson might be skilled enough as a director to offer some tantalizing adrenaline rushes, he isn’t much of a writer and the Resident Evil series fall victim to the sequel’s curse of diminishing returns. Consider the fourth entry off the assembly line, Resident Evil: Afterlife; a series of extended action sequences loosely connected by an illusory plot. The villains are not characters but boss levels in a video game dropped in when slaughtering zombies, or faceless Umbrella Corp soldiers, becomes tedious. There’s a hooded hammer-wielding giant borrowed from a rejected Silent Hill character sketch, thrown in without explanation. There’s superpowered Umbrella Chairman Wesker (Shawn Roberts, who makes the classic villain’s sneer seem dull), who survives an entire army of Alice clones…and more. And around these villains are characters – the word almost needs quotation marks – like Ali Larter’s Claire Renfield and series protagonist Alice, played by Milla Jovovich as if she fancies herself a better actress in a better film. Although Afterlife tries to hit the usual post-apocalypse survival motif, by the end of the film it’s clear that audiences have been duped by the attempt to confuse non-stop action with plot and character. Dispensing with asking questions, let alone answering them, characters are left in essentially the same lurch at the end of the film as they were in the beginning. Of course, the inevitable cliffhanger promises more to come. But remind me: what’s the rational for Umbrella Corporation’s continued operation in a world without an economy, without a consumer base, without any form of social order? A better question: does Anderson even care anymore?

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