Opening Friday, September 21
Milla Jovovich as Alice
Oded Fehr as Carlos Olivera
Ali Larter as Claire Redfield
Iain Glen as Dr. Isaacs
Ashanti as Betty
Christopher Egan as Mikey
Spencer Locke as K-Mart
Matthew Marsden as Slater
Linden Ashby as Chase
Jason O’Mara as Albert Wesker
Mike Epps as L.J.
Joe Hursley as Otto
Directed by Russell Mulcahy
Not nearly as dumb as the previous movie, but still obvious and predictable enough to be fairly dull despite a few impressive action sequences.
The Umbrella Corp under the guidance of the misguided Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) has been cloning Alice (Milla Jovovich) in hopes of finding a cure for the T-Virus that has turned earth into a wasteland. The real Alice, more powerful than ever, is on the run through the desert where she meets up with Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and a caravan of survivors who face all sorts of obstacles on their journey to Alaska, which is thought to be safe from the infection.
Any hope that the third time is the charm with this movie franchise loosely-based on the “Resident Evil” video games by producer/writer Paul W.S. Anderson will depend on whether or not you think they can possibly do any worse than the last installment, which went so over-the-top with its action scenes that it lost sight of the eerie solitude of the gameplay. “Resident Evil: Extinction” has some equally ludicrous action scenes, but it also brings back a lot of the things that worked in the first movie.
Things begin at an Umbrella Corp underground installation similar to the one that was the setting for the first movie, opening with Milla Jovovich’s Alice naked on the floor (always a favorite among the fans), before she navigates some of the death traps from the original movie. As we learn, this is just one of dozens of clones that have been made from the original Alice, who has been on run from Umbrella for years, as the earth has been devastated by the T-Virus outbreak and turned into a wasteland where the infested outnumber everyone else. In the desert, Alice hooks up with Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) and her caravan of survivors on a journey to Alaska, which presumably hasn’t been hit by the infection yet.
This time, Anderson has brought on board the far more experienced Russell Mulcahy of “Highlander” fame to direct, something that allows for an improvement in the look and tone of the threequel. Mulcahy’s obviously in love with using sweeping shots of the Nevada desert, especially showing the Umbrella installation surrounded by the infected, but for the most part, the CG isn’t particularly refined and it looks very CG, especially when we see some of the same shots used repeatedly, from the tracking shot from earth to the Umbrella satellite to the way the underground installation is shown as an animated blueprint.
A good chunk of the movie is watching the group of survivors facing obstacles on their journey across the desert. An attack by infected crows is somewhat inspired but when they finally arrive in a completely deserted Las Vegas, it’s hard not to laugh when seemingly hundreds of infected start pouring out of the back of a truck like clowns out of a small car at the circus, putting Alice’s killing skills further to use.
Wisely, everyone involved with the movie realizes that Milla’s Alice is indeed the reason why the franchise continues to thrive, and she’s given a chance to complete her transformation from kick-ass action star to full-on superhero, as she manifests telekinetic powers that makes it easier to defeat all odds. Alice really has been turned into a great movie heroine that’s easy to root for, but when someone is so adept at slicing and dicing through the infected, it never feels like there’s any danger. Having seen a lot of this stuff in the previous two movies–not to mention every other zombie movie that’s come out since–we’ve become so desensitized to the violence and gore that it’s not particularly exciting.
Ali Larter’s Claire is a nice addition to the mix, but she’s not a particularly charismatic character compared to Alice and the rest of the cast are fairly expendable as they take a back seat to the ladies. Even returning characters like Oded Fehr’s Carlos and Mike Epps, who was easily the best part of the last movie as the constantly wisecracking and unlikely hero TJ, don’t bring much to the movie. T. J. has generally gotten far too serious, and doesn’t bring as much to the movie as he did last time.
A lot of the horror elements of the game are also discarded, except for a few scenes of Alice or T.J. walking through dark, deserted spaces, setting things up for cheap scares when an infected person jumps out at them. Other than a couple surprises towards the end, you never feel as if this threequel is offering anything we haven’t seen before, especially when it ends with Alice taking on another large mutated creature and an obvious crowd-pleasing set-up for a possible fourth chapter.
The Bottom Line:
If you’ve made it through the previous two movies with your taste for bad action movies intact, you probably won’t fault “Resident Evil: Extinction” for being more of the same, and while it offers lots of great scenes of Milla kicking butt, the rest of the movie is pretty bland and instantly forgettable.