Resident Evil: Extinction

In a large selection of video game adaptations hitting the big screen over the past six years, “Resident Evil: Extinction” is not among the worst. Even with a script that lacks the novelty and punch of the first film, and a plot that has settled down in a routine of brainless pursuits and shoot-outs, the movie operates as an entertaining action flick, which, despite its obvious flaws, is fast-paced enough to keep fans of the genre cheering.

As the title already suggests, life on earth is close to being extinct. The T-virus has spread all over the world and has ravaged every continent, leaving behind only a horde of ruthless zombies striving for human flesh. Members of the Umbrella Corporation, who unleashed the virus but survived the plague, are hiding in the remaining underground labs, struggling to generate a cure to end the madness above ground.

Meanwhile, in an effort to survive without being captured by Umbrella’s ruthless scientist Dr. Isaacs (Ian Glen), Alice (Milla Jovovich) is cruising through the Nevada desert after successfully eliminating the Nemesis in Raccoon City. As fate would have it, she meets a caravan of survivors led by Claire (Ali Larter) and Carlos (Oded Fehr), who are driving from town to town to seek food and gas.

When the convoy arrives in a deserted Las Vegas, Alice and her new buddies are greeted by a group of vicious zombies, which they later find out were sent over by Isaacs in an attempts to catch Alice and make her part of his research. Tired of having to put up with Umbrella and battle the undead, Alice decides to seek revenge and work out a plan to bring down the corporation for good.

Moviegoers who pay to see “Extinction” with the hope of being supplied with action, more action, and nothing but action will probably leave the theatre with a sense of satisfaction. Of course the film is monotonous at best, but thanks to director Russell Mulcahy, who seems to be a dab hand at structuring violent battles, the plot moves at a cracking pace. In short: the movie is absurd, but enjoyable to watch.

One aspect that has worked fairly well in all the “Resident Evil” movies so far is the consistency among the story lines. Alice, the hero of the franchise, has been evolving ever since we met her, and she’s grown into just the kind of strong, likeable character “Extinction” needs to survive. If there is one other reason besides the action to see this flick, it’s her, kicking butt and stopping at nothing on her quest to destroy Umbrella and break up with the zombies.

Milla Jovovich, for her part, is excellent at what she does. Hardcore fans will get plenty of opportunities to admire her body and see her in action, delivering some compelling stunts and trashy one-liners. But the woman sure knows how to fight, which makes it way easier to understand how fans of the franchise take incredible pleasure in watching her wrestle with mutated dogs or slashing some zombie throats, arms and legs.

Put aside the action for a second however, and “Extinction” quickly transmutes into a worthless piece of filmmaking that lacks a solid story and runs short on suspense. The stylish action manages to cover the film’s superficiality up until the final 20 minutes, when the course of events abruptly reverses and a lame showdown that very much resembles the ridiculous showdown of “Apocalypse” ruins every chance for a satisfying conclusion.

Given the movie’s ending, I doubt that the filmmakers will rest their case and refrain from producing another sequel. The formula works and business is good, as “Extinction” scared up $24 million during its opening weekend. Rumors are currently circling the net that a potential fourth film may shift the focus from Alice to Ali Larter’s character Claire, but if they pull that off, they better make her have something Jovovich lacks. And boy, that’s nearly impossible.

Review by Franck Tabouring