Directed by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Written by: Paul W. S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Sergio Peris-Mencheta
When the lore of your story has some fertile ground to run with and you have completely given into its tendencies, all you can do is continue to ride the wave. At this point, trying to do a 180 would be silly so it’s time to embrace it all and completely go for it. This pretty much sums up the events transpiring in Resident Evil: Afterlife as it goes for broke making for some highly entertaining moments.
After freeing her clones and taking out the main HQ of the Umbrella Corporation, Alice (Milla Jovovich) continues her search for the promised land of Arcadia where survivors supposedly exist. On her way, she finds herself in Los Angeles with a group of survivors held up in a prison seeking the same saving grace as her.
With the more expansive approach of Apocalypse and Extinction out the door, this feature opts to go back to the roots of the first feature in crafting a more contained feature as far as its location. The same cannot be said of the action as this feature may exhibit the very best the franchise has to offer. Having the prison serve as the main location of the feature causes a sense of claustrophobia for these characters, especially when their fortress has thousands of zombies surrounding it trying their hardest to get inside. Limited transportation and resources cause a sense of desperation to get to Arcadia which will make them take some drastic action.
The main selling point of this feature was always the giant zombie with an axe, let’s be real. Each Resident Evil film has provided new overpowered zombies into the mix like Nemesis and whatever Dr. Isaacs turned into and in this feature, we receive the zombie with the giant axe. Does the film address how there could be a zombie that magically transforms to being over 8ft tall and finds a cool-looking axe to wield against humans? No, and it also does not explain how it does not have a need to eat humans but merely wants to swing its big axe and we’re just in this for Alice to take him on and the scene delivers. With all of its slow-motion glory, we get a scene worth the price of admission alone nearly aggravating me because we did not receive more of the giant zombie wielding an axe. However, what we receive does just enough and allows for a collaboration of Alice and Claire (Ali Larter) that we always needed.
Along with the lively giant zombie wielding an axe, this feature introduces the most formidable villain this franchise has offered in Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts). While he made a brief appearance in the last film, he truly enters the fray in this feature and demonstrates what makes him an appropriate adversary for Alice even if his abilities make zero sense, and when the conclusion of this feature hits, it becomes even more confusing. But at the very least, we receive the life-action Wesker and he proves why he should be feared by everyone, including Alice.
With a new set of characters for Alice to interact with and will be used as fodder for the zombies to eat instead of the real characters, you get plenty of individuals who certainly lived in Los Angeles. Almost to a comedic degree, this feature makes them out to be stereotypes. I mean, the Hollywood producer character acts exactly like you would expect an arrogant man to do during these circumstances. Very basic and weak characterization, which has never been a strong suit of this franchise as a whole.
Fairly self-contained except for a bombastic conclusion, Resident Evil: Afterlife feels very taut and sharp in the action it displays and the characters introduced. It shows an Alice who has been stripped of her superpowers and has to manage to fight all of these zombies and the large ones wielding an axe. It allows for an efficiently told story with the same flaws as the other films with its horrid dialogue but it remains packed with shoddily directed but enjoyable action sequences and so many begrudging bright spots stopping me from being too mad at its deficiencies, which there are many.