When I wasn’t listening to the endlessly isolated ticks and tocks from the hands of my watch during my viewing of Resident Evil: Afterlife, I was working out how long the film really would have been if it weren’t for all the slow-motion. Given that each action set-piece is engorged in the bullet-time effect – at one point the film actually freezes as we’re given a totally unnecessary 180 degree view of two mid-air rivals in an aircraft that’s about to explode – I’d have clocked the film in at about two and a half minutes. Two and a half minutes of tedium.
Yes, the Resident Evil franchise is back (insert monotonous groan here) and this time it comes with the title, “Afterlife“. Because even when the series is dead in terms of quality, it’s still walking around. I’ll confess that I actually have not seen the previous installment, entitled Extinction, mainly due to all of the appalling things I’ve heard about it, but I have seen number one and two so I know the basic story and wasn’t confused by Afterlife. Then again, the film’s not smart enough to confuse even a two-year-old giraffe with down’s syndrome.
The after-credits sequence shows superhuman, machine gun-toting, mega-bitch Alice (Milla Jovovich) tearing her way through a Japanese base along with her equally flexible clones to get to Albert Wesker (Shawn Roberts), the evil head of the Umbrella Corporation, which has turned almost the entire population of the world into the undead. He sneakily injects her with a serum which obliterates the T-Virus from her system, taking her telekinetic powers away and turning her back into a normal human, for which she thanks him before he falls victim to an aircraft-mountain collision.
Some months later, Alice is searching through the post-apocalyptic world for survivors, following a radio broadcast leading to an apparent safe haven – called Arcadia – for people who aren’t flesh-eating mutants. Along her way, she finds Claire Redfield (Ali Larter), an old acquaintance whose memory has been wiped by an Umbrella device attached to her chest. Alice takes Claire on her journey until they eventually find a prison surrounded by zombies, in which a small band of survivors are living.
It turns out that these cardboard cut-out characters are looking for Arcadia as well, and tell Alice that it is a cargo tanker which is in binoculars-sight of the prison. Hooray! Problem is that the plane Alice and Claire arrived in can only carry two people, and the prison is a considerably awkward landing place. So, Alice and the group of incredibly forgettable armed mutant-killers must find a way of getting to Arcadia without being turned into zombie poop.
To sum up Resident Evil: Afterlife, I’d have to say it’s like a series of tiring video game cut scenes you have to sit through while waiting for the gameplay to start again so that you can pump bullets into zombies’ decomposing skulls and decapitate them with chainsaws. But as much as you press that X button in hope that the characters shut the hell up and start battling evil creatures, it ain’t gonna happen any time soon.
The film slowly plods along, arms outstretched, saliva drooling down its chin, desiring to feast on your brain while moaning, “moonneeyyyyyy” and throwing objects at the camera (for the 3D, you see). It desperately struggles to be interesting for more than three minutes, but when a film is as brain-dead as this, you can only express sympathy towards it.
The characters talk in such stilted dialogue, never saying anything the least bit catchy, witty or amusing, nor do they even carry proper personalities. Everyone comes across as so cold and emotionless, with not even Alice having much of an impression on the viewer. Jovovich is a fine actress, but with writer and director Paul W.S. Anderson’s script, there’s no hope for her.
To be fair to Anderson, he is a man with a knack for eye-catching visuals. The film is a good-looking one and the cinematography carries some weight, especially during the action scenes, taking the film out of the overall blandness surrounding it. The fight scenes are most definitely the film’s highlights, the second of which very much caught my attention, consisting of Alice swinging off of an exploding rooftop before blasting her way through a hoard of zombies, all in slow-motion with Tomandandy’s score blaring throughout. It’s just a shame that these relatively cool parts of bullet-time action are so infrequent that they will leave you wanting so much more.
As our villain, Roberts is agonisingly corny, playing a sunglasses-wearing Agent Smith wannabe who’s as banal as he is one-dimensional. Our zombies only get a couple of scenes worth of screen time along with a massive, axe-wielding mutant beast thing with a sack on his head who randomly pops up and picks a fight with Claire. I have no idea what he was and I don’t really give a crap.
The rest of the cast is barely worth mentioning; none of them are striking at all. Not even the usually reliable Ali Larter manages to pack a punch. Boris Kodjoe leads the group Alice finds, which also contains Kim Coates as a movie producer who you just know is going to betray them, and Kacey Barnfield as an actress. Ironic. There’s also Wentworth Miller as Chris, a soldier who is locked up in the prison, probably as an homage to the actor’s famous role in TV show Prison Break. As a supporting cast, they’re pretty weak, but this could just be the wooden lines they have to read.
Resident Evil: Afterlife is not even close to how fun it thinks it is; its veins diseased with the deadly seen-it-all-before virus. Aside from the element of being filmed in 3D, there isn’t anything new here and it’s all quite dire, unable to survive on such a wafer-thin story and over-serious tone. I’ve gotta admit, tits and ass would have come in handy. Tut tut, Anderson.
Three outta ten.