Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Directed by: Russell Mulcahy | 95 minutes | action, horror, thriller, science fiction | Actors: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Ashanti, Christopher Egan, Spencer Locke, Matthew Marsden, Linden Ashby, Jason O’Mara, Mike Epps, Joe Hursley, John Eric Bentley, James Tumminia, Kirk BR Woller, Rick Cramer, Madeline Carroll, Peter O’Meara, William Abadie, Ramón Franco, Shane Woodson, Valorie Hubbard, Geoff Meed, Rusty Joiner, Brian Steele, Connor McCoy, Gary A. Hecker
Sure enough, the makers of the new ‘Resident Evil’ movie have succeeded: the ounce of originality and tension that was present in the first two installments of the series is gone, resulting in a faceless film that doesn’t even live up to a mediocre video game -film adaptation, let alone a structurally and substantively satisfying film. Milla Jovovich is back to take on the evil Umbrella organization, and of course – because this is what it’s all about – to slaughter an army of zombies and mutated beasts. But where in the first part, as in the game on which the films are based, there was still an effective sense of constriction due to the small spaces in which the protagonists found themselves, and the almost relentless threat of enemies, in part three almost no tension to be found.
The film bears little resemblance to the games, but adopts the strategy of George Romero’s classic “Dead” zombie series. That means the zombies cover a larger, wider area every movie. However, that also means that there is no more claustrophobic tension. This wouldn’t be so bad if the threat is still palpable or if there was something interesting going on. Unfortunately this does not appear to be the case in ‘Resident Evil: Extinction’. Romero, despite giving up tight spaces, still managed to create suspense in his sequels, and each of his films has compelling social and psychological layers. You expect little of value in a ‘Resident Evil’ film, but one of the few valuable moments in the film is of that nature. The psychology of the zombies is used to achieve healing. The theory is that as the zombies become more intelligent, their literal fleshly needs diminish. Unfortunately, the theory is not satisfactorily substantiated in the film and there are therefore few leads for possible metaphors. Now it just makes for some funny moments in the movie when a zombie is taught to operate a digital camera and put differently shaped wooden blocks into the correct holes.
But what about the action and suspense, what matters most in a movie like this? Bad. The opening sequence is a nice teaser, but it’s downhill from there. As mentioned, there is no tension due to claustrophobia, but you also don’t have the idea that the main characters are really in danger or are constantly being chased. The characters simply travel around the country in a ‘Mad Max’ desert setting to investigate if there are zombies somewhere and then take them down. This set-up kills the film. Some potential for threat is present in the form of an homage to Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds’, but the build-up is too short and the execution too simple. The encounters with the zombies are like in any other similar movie. In short, not very surprising. And of course, one of the hero company gets bitten by a zombie and keeps it a secret from everyone else. Deadly for such a film is that it is boring, but unfortunately that is the case here. Only after an hour does some interesting action come into play by means of a kinetic confrontation with a large group of zombies. But the revival is quite short-lived. Even the final battle between Jovovich and a mutated enemy is uninspired and boring.
‘Resident Evil: Extinction’ has a handful of successful scenes, but above all it is a tensionless and unnecessary sequel that has transformed a terrifying game series into something dull and monotonous. Unfortunate. The quality deteriorates noticeably with each new film. Time to pull the plug.