PLOT In the zombie apocalypse, a lone warrior races to find an antidote.
CAST Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Ruby Rose
RATED R (gory violence)
BOTTOM LINE The six-film action-horror franchise ends as it began: gory, silly and empty.
Of all the zombie-apocalypse films to hit screens since George Romero’s “Night of the Living Dead” launched the genre in 1968, the “Resident Evil” movies are surely the least interesting. Countless essays and books have discussed the zombie as a metaphor for just about everything from AIDS to economic collapse, but the “Resident Evil” franchise — based on the Capcom video games — remains stubbornly immune to analysis. Though the movies technically have stories and characters, they don’t really seem to be about anything at all.
“The Final Chapter” brings back Milla Jovovich as Alice, a lone warrior wandering a blighted landscape. She’s meant to remind us of Mad Max, but without the depth or personality. As always, Alice is an avatar whose identifying traits are skin-deep: blue eyes, jaw-length hair and a rugged-but-sexy outfit that goes well with combat boots. In this episode, Alice has 48 hours to locate a zombie antidote, which lies somewhere inside the headquarters of the sinister Umbrella Corporation run by the coldhearted Dr. Isaacs (a fairly enjoyable Iain Glen).
The characters in “Resident Evil” have been tossing vials of anti-virus back and forth like hot potatoes for so long that it’s impossible to get excited about another one. Not that it matters. “The Final Chapter” is mostly made up of levels for Alice to complete: a hallway full of lasers, a crawl space with trapdoors, a martial-arts match on a moving platform. Alice’s triumphs are mostly due to athletic skill and hand-eye coordination, with little else to make them compelling. Her less talented colleagues drop like flies, but it’s hard to care about these cardboard characters, who might as well be called Surly Guy (William Levy), Cool Chick (Ruby Rose) and Expendable Friend (Fraser James). The team doctor, played by Eoin Macken, is named Doc.
Franchise mastermind Paul W.S. Anderson, who writes and directs, seems to have finally lost enthusiasm. Although his fight sequences often crackle, and he still has an eye for detail (the battle-tank decorated with rosaries is a nice touch), the movie overall seems to be limping, not sprinting, to the finish line. By the way, now that the series is over, is it too late to ask what the title “Resident Evil” means? Oh, well.