The Resident Evil movies are a strange breed. They started out as an action oriented adaptation of the survival horror videogames, but over the years forged their own identity. Where the games remained grounded in horror with a focus on action, the films were focused on action with elements of horror. The zombies and monsters are rather superfluous, a vehicle for the characters to look cool. With each installment the movies took themselves less seriously, embracing the serious irony that has become a part of their being.
For what they are, the RE films could not have lasted as long as they did without a dedicated fan base and people that cared enough to make them. The series is full of ridiculous schlock action you could only find in anime and it helps that Milla Jovovich is a pretty great heroine. I also like the RE movies, but as with anything good they too have flaws. Where does Final Chapter stand as the series’ conclusion?
After losing the battle in DC, Alice is tasked by the Red Queen to return to Raccoon City and recover an airborne anti-virus to the T-Virus. She must then release it into the world before the remaining human survivors are killed off.
The RE films exist in a league of their own and have a persona that people recognize. It is difficult to judge them in regards to other movies. That is like comparing Republicans to Democrats; both are the same, but they very much stand apart from each other upon close observation. For this reason, Final Chapter must be judged as an RE film.
This entry is an anomaly in the series. Following Apocalypse each one has retconned itself into something different. What started as a generic zombie story became a post-apocalypse adventure, an action-horror romp, and then pure schlock nonsense. Why they would change the narrative and set-up is a classic writing tactic. In order to keep a series going, you maintain a status quo where no character or story element creates an opportunity to do anything greater. In the event such an opportunity presents itself, it is written off to bring it all back to square one. See the Walking Dead television show for many examples.
Final Chapter follows this trend by skipping over what happened at the end of Retribution, killing off all the new characters, and talking about what happened in dialogue. What makes it an anomaly is that it does not become something new. Instead it takes elements from the previous three installments and mashed them into one. You get Mad Max, Aliens, and Invasion USA in a single package. At the same time, it makes sure to keep everything within the confines of the status quo.
To say Final Chapter is ridiculous would be an understatement. If you decide to see it, be prepared for nonsense that rivals Afterlife’s ending and Retribution’s underground city simulators. There is a siege battle involving fire and a makeshift catapult, super tanks that lure herds of zombies, and more hand-to-hand fights than a Raid movie. After the midpoint, there is a sequence that is so stupid, I could not fault it because it fit so well. The scene did result in an unceremonious death a character, though. However, I could not have fun with most of the action because the film was absolutely ruined in editing.
Like Blood Wars (exactly like Blood Wars, in fact) there is a jump cut every half-second when there is even the slightest of movement. When a guy gets out of a tank, we see the hatch open, and then he is already on the outside holding a gun. It is even worse in action scenes where there is a cut right before you realize what is going on. This is a gross departure from the previous films in which the action was the series’ cornerstone. It was on full display, usually in slow motion, and fun to behold. Final Chapter is the complete antithesis and very difficult to watch.
In regards to the series as a whole, Final Chapter would be higher up if it were shot better. The previous movies were about the action and embraced the ridiculousness. Final Chapter has all that buried under the thick haze of terrible editing. That should not discourage would-be fans from seeing the conclusion to the Resident Evil film series. You know exactly what you are getting into and will hopefully find yourself satisfied. To non-fans, stay away because you will not get it.