(US/Germany - 2017)
Written and directed by Paul W.S. Anderson. Cast: Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter, Iain Glen, Shawn Roberts, Ruby Rose, Eoin Macken, Fraser James, William Levy, Rola, Lee Goon Ji, Ever Anderson, Mark Simpson. (R, 106 mins)
The Paul W.S. Anderson-shepherded RESIDENT EVIL franchise has been a mostly reliable source of empty calorie junk food over the last 15 years, with the only real stumble being the second film in the series, 2004's RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE. Directed not by Anderson (who was busy with the execrable ALIEN VS. PREDATOR) but by veteran second-unit guy Alexander Witt--who hasn't directed a film since--APOCALYPSE remains the nadir of a series that sprang back to life when Anderson returned to the director's chair for the fourth entry, 2010's 3D RESIDENT EVIL: AFTERLIFE (HIGHLANDER director Russell Mulcahy helmed 2007's so-so RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION). Unfortunately, with RESIDENT EVIL: THE FINAL CHAPTER, the purported conclusion to the series (not likely), things take a turn toward the APOCALYPSE end of things. Fatigue was starting to set in with the most recent entry, 2012's RESIDENT EVIL: RETRIBUTION, but with THE FINAL CHAPTER, everyone involved, starting with star Milla Jovovich, just seems to be over it. The worst decision Anderson makes here--and perhaps he did so under the false assumption that it would liven up a stale formula--is to utilize the services of editor Doobie White. White's credits include CRANK 2: HIGH VOLTAGE, RECLAIM, and MOMENTUM, action films that rely on lighting-fast cutting so that no shot seems to last longer than a second. It's RESIDENT EVIL done quick-cut/shaky-cam style, rendering most of the action sequences an unwatchable, headache-inducing blur. Not only does that aesthetic not gel with Anderson's usual style, but it's nearly a decade past its sell-by date. Anderson takes a lot of shit from fanboy types, but he's always been a stylist first and foremost, and his films do have a distinctive look and feel to them, all the way back to his 1994 debut SHOPPING. Why he would decide, nearly a quarter century into his filmmaking career, to start ripping off the worst tendencies of Michael Bay and the Neveldine/Taylor CRANK guys is a mystery. To say that THE FINAL CHAPTER is marginally better than APOCALYPSE is damning with faint praise, but it's still an incoherent, hideous mess to look at and tantamount to a digital migraine.