Resident Evil was cool, Resident Evil: Apocalypse was great, and Resident Evil: Extinction was crazy. Resident Evil: Afterlife began well; establishing the start of the apocalypse in Japan when an undead girl attacks a man passing by. Afterlife shows a lot of promise here, incorporating 3D effects and a cool industrial soundtrack right off the bat, coupled with the ominous visual tone of this introduction.
Four years later, two Japanese Umbrella snipers are on rooftops above the underground Umbrella lair, shooting off undead for kicks. The Alice clones make short work of them and the rest of the Umbrella defenses as they invade the base in an effort to get to Albert Wesker. Some of the coolest scenes from the trailer are shown here, much too disappointingly soon. Wesker escapes in a helicopter, obliterates his base and all the clones (once again, too disappointingly soon) before being ambushed by the real Alice on board. Alice falls prey to Hollywood cliche, choosing to go up-close to kill him off instead of from longer distance. Much too predictably, Wesker overcomes her, injecting her with a serum that removes the T-Virus from her system before the helicopter crashes into some mountains.
And that, sadly, is where promise gets broken.
Six months later, Alice is in search of Arcadia and her comrades from Extinction. She finds Claire Redfield, amnesia-afflicted and rabid, and the two set off in a biplane, eventually meeting more survivors on the roof of a prison. Most of these are meaningless inclusions to the story, but the ones that aren’t include basketball star Luther West (played by Boris Kodjoe) and Chris Redfield, finally making his movie appearance. Chris is played by Wentworth Miller and when we first meet him, he’s stuck in a cell, claiming to know a way out. The Prison Break reference was pretty lame, and the first hint that this was a movie experience that was going to go awry.
The second was in the appearance of The Axeman. His introduction was a neat one, lumbering down a barren street with his axe in tow. But waitaminute, when we last took a look at the streets, they were swarming with undead. So where were they? And why did this particular one get so big? Where on earth did he get that weapon from? Eventually, he makes his way into the prison, jumping Alice when she’s about to begin a shower. The fight that ensues when Alice and Claire face him off is a great one; probably the highlight of the show (next to watching the Alice clones whoop ass). It is also makes some really good use of 3D. But wait, why were there coins in his head when he got killed off?
Alice, Claire and Chris carry on, eventually reaching Arcadia (which is revealed to be a ship, not a geographical location as initially envisioned) but losing all their comrades in the process. Here they discover the horrible truth of it all: Arcadia was a trap by Umbrella, used to stock up on any remaining survivors to further their experiments. But half of us already guessed that by now, didn’t we? Our heroes find the captives, including their buddy K-Mart, and release her. They do a little bit more poking round and discover, waiting for them…Albert Wesker. This scene is an important one, because if it didn’t happen there probably wouldn’t have been anything else for Paul W.S. Anderson to live up to (since when did zombie movies have happy endings anyway?). But it did happen, setting up a chain of events that exponentially increased Resident Evil: Afterlife‘s descent into a rotting, undead pile of movie carcass. If it was tiring enough that Wesker survived, watching him clad in leather trenchcoat and black shades pulling off bullet-time was just ridiculous. It wasn’t even so much a cheap ripoff like in similar Bollywood scenes, as it was a polished mess of bleak unoriginality. Imitation is sometimes the best form of flattery, but there is nothing at all the Wachowski Brothers can be complimented with here. Alice, Chris and Claire eventually succeed in blowing up Wesker in his escape aircraft (once again, as predicted) but it has been said that a parachute can be seen, signifying his defeat of death yet again. That’s the sucker punch in a movie already filled with too much nonsense and too much Albert Wesker. The remaining Arcadia captives are released, they enjoy a good minute of freedom before Jill Valentine and a fleet of Umbrella operatives are shown closing in on them. But I really couldn’t care less if it were a bunch of butt-nekkid biker chicks and aliens descending upon a cloud of Carebears with intent to rape, murder and pillage. Everything at this point was tiresome garbage. The one, one, one and only tiny little glimmer of satisfaction the ending brought me was the revelation that Luther West survived.
In a nutshell, Paul W.S. Anderson got lucky that Milla Jovovich, Boris Kodjoe and the post-production team were able to give this misadventure its enjoyable moments, but even then they couldn”t make up for the uninspired storyline, lame script and some plot elements which plainly didn’t make sense (the Axeman, Albert Wesker, and the unevenly convenient recovery rate of Claire Redfield’s amnesia). No more sequels please; I think we’ve had enough.
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Producers: Paul W.S. Anderson, Jeremy Bolt, Don Carmody, Bernd Eichinger, Samuel Hadida & Robert Kulzer
Screenwriter: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Kim Coates, Shawn Roberts, Boris Kodjoe, Spencer Locke, Wentworth Miller