Starring: MIlla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Shawn Roberts
Director: Paul W.S. Anderson
Running Time: 97 mins
Resident Evil: Afterlife is a French/German film and the fourth in the Resident Evil series. After landing in a dilapidated Los Angeles, Alice joins forces with a small group of survivors to break out of a surrounded facility and reach the safe haven of Arcadia.
It’s a real shame to have to say it, but Resident Evil: Afterlife is the point where the series just loses its mojo. Whilst there are brief moments of the sheer manic action and sci-fi that have made the previous films so fun, this is unfortunately a far too slow-moving, serious, predictable and generic movie that almost never managed to entertain me as the series has so far managed to do so well.
The biggest problem with this film is easily its pacing. As I’ve said throughout the whole series, I know that these movies aren’t objectively good, but their rapid-fire and off-the-wall action has made them often thoroughly enjoyable. That’s what disappoints me most about Afterlife, as it’s a film that really hangs around building up what isn’t a particularly exciting story, and very rarely gives you the silly sci-fi action that’s so fun to watch.
Although starting well with a fun opening sequence, the film is then brought to a halt with an hour of watching Alice globetrotting in a light aircraft (all the while explaining the plot directly to camera in the most patronising and dull way), and then sitting in an abandoned prison with a few random survivors until they break out. On the whole, then, there’s very little to really enjoy in the way that this series has done so well before, and what made it even more disappointing for me was constantly waiting for it all to kick off, and only then getting a fraction of what I wanted in the final act.
The story doesn’t do the film any favours either. Again, these movies aren’t masterpieces, but their silliness has been enough so far to distract me from some very thin storytelling. Unfortunately, as Resident Evil: Afterlife doesn’t feature so much of that, the poor story is a lot more noticeable, and as a result, a lot more frustrating.
Apart from the fact that it moves at a snail’s pace for the majority of the runtime, the plot here is painfully predictable. Effectively giving the game away about the truth of Arcadia a third of the way in, I spent most of this movie frustrated with all of the characters’ idiotic decisions, always seeming to get them into pointless spots of trouble, which weren’t even capitalised upon to make for some silly sci-fi action.
Another issue with this movie is the directing. Whilst Paul W.S. Anderson managed to do a decent job in the first Resident Evil, this film isn’t at all pleasant to watch. Going completely over the top with 300/Matrix-style slow-mo shots, worsened more by farcical 3D effects from start to finish, this feels like an incredibly manufactured and soulless blockbuster, and not the fun-loving adventure that the previous films have offered.
Although the final fifteen minutes or so are an exception to all these issues, as we finish up with a ridiculous, rapid-fire and properly entertaining finale, I found it hard not to feel very disappointed by this movie. Missing the spirit that’s made the series a silly but genuinely enjoyable watch so far, Resident Evil: Afterlife falls down heavily due to its slow pacing, dull storytelling, poor directing, and simple lack of action, which is why I’m giving it a 6.1 overall.