Just so we are clear on the rule: When you try to look cool you never can do.
With that said; lets take a quick recap of the franchise so far:
Resident Evil – Good.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse – Fine apart from Nemesis (I am Robocop).
Resident Evil: Extinction – Ali Larter and other annoying characters.
Resident Evil: Afterlife – Still Ali Larter! Plagas from nowhere and not explained at all.
A very general overview as given to us at the start of the movie is something like: Alice worked for Umbrella that created a virus (of the “T” type) that reanimated the dead. It all turned out well, as you would expect. Retribution is the continuation of her happy family life. Wait. No. Sorry. It turns out bringing the dead back to life (in a fashion) is a bad idea. Really, shit hits fan, Alice and team go and kick some zombie arse and/or die. Alice gets the T-Virus but binds with it and gets super kick arsery instead of dead. Over the course of the movies her abilities expand, even into psychic powers. Then, when ever a class gets too powerful the nerf bats come out. In the last movie Alice lost her T-Virus powers and was back to a normal human.
We join Alice in rewind from the end of the last film. It’s something of a trait that the end of a Resident Evil movie has a little bit of the beginning of the next. So far, I don’t think one has lived up to the end of another. We join Alice a little after the last movie but in rewind. A nice little effect, shame it goes on far too long and brings nothing other than “cool”. Oh, forgot to mention, Alice also had a lot of clones running about trying to bring down Umbrella. It’s okay that I forgot because Retribution seems to have as well. Either that or they’re all dead. It seems Alice clones die quite easily. Must be the lack of the T-Virus.
Generally there are two types of action movie. The martial arts form where you have set pieces that a story is draped around or a story where the action comes from the plot. The Resident Evil franchise got to the second type a few movies ago and seems determined to stay ensconced there. This is were the problems begin for me. I went with the rewind start. Then Alice, sans T-Virus, fights a load of zombies (fast zombies, so Plagas or whatever) with what appears to be kick arsary powers. So, why did all the Alice clones die? Can’t of been the lack of the T-Virus.
Anyway, moving along. This is something of a “best of” movie. Returning characters (not Ali Larter, wowhoo! I only watched the last one in the hopes she would die.) and situations. I think it’s quite telling how most of the people and things I remember come from the first movie. The thinly draped plot is: Alice needs to escape the Umbrella facility (again!) by going through different themed zones. Supposedly, test beds for various viruses Umbrella is still building. I’m not sure who is buying these viruses at this stage but hey ho. Each zone has it’s own set piece. Nazi zombies, they’re cool right? Lets have those. Without the Nazi bit and lets not mention them driving vehicles!
In, what I can only assume is an attempt to engender something of an emotional response, Alice gains a daughter of sorts. Admitidly it does give Milla Jovovich something to emote over and more to do than just look “cool”. I’ve been something of a fan of hers since The Fifth Element and if you want to watch her really emote try Joan of Arc. The acting overall ranges from “okay” to “woeful”. The afore mentioned Jovovich along with, Bingbing Li (as Ada Wong) and returning Michelle Rodriguez(as Rain) all do the best with what they have. Johann Urb (as Leon S. Kennedy) fell into the woeful bracket. Special mention must go to Sienna Guillory (as Jill Valentine, who was the best thing in Apocalypse) for some very funky shoulder movements when dual wielding pistols.
In conclusion then: Set piece to set piece. And umm… that’s about it. Even the end/start of the next one was pretty uninspiring or maybe I’ve been let down too many times.
2/5 (Future of the Left – Robocop 4 – Seriously get their new album “the plot against common sense” :))