Review Date: 11/28/21
Cast: Kaya Scodelario, Robbie Amell, Hannah John-Kamen, Neal McDonough, Tom Hopper, Donal Logue, Avan Jogia, cameos by Marina Mazepa, Lily Gao
What is it with Capcom and crappy movie adaptations? Paul Anderson's "Resident Evil" series ran out of ideas and literally had nowhere left to go, so it only made sense to reboot the franchise. To its credit, unlike Anderson's take on the material, this movie stays true to the original games, although the execution is sorely lacking. After a long and unnecessary flashback of Claire (Kaya Scodelario) and Chris Redfield (Robbie Amell) growing up in an Umbrella sponsored orphanage run by a sinister William Birkin (Neal McDonough), Claire returns to Raccoon City to warn Chris about her latest conspiracy theory concerning what the Umbrella Corporation has been up to. Meanwhile, Chris, Jill Valentine (Hannah John-Kamen), and Albert Wesker (Tom Hopper) are sent to investigate the Spencer Mansion when their teammates don't report in. Rookie cop Leon Kennedy (Avan Jogia) is stuck at the police station and joined by Claire when it becomes overrun with zombies. The survivors meet up at the mansion (which is also overrun by zombies), and the only way out of town is through an underground train tunnel.
The film is essentially a mash-up of the first two "Resident Evil" games, and while it goes to great lengths to get the details right, the screenplay and dialog are appallingly bad. Granted, the dialog in the games is laughably awful, so maybe they wanted to reflect that in the film as well? The overuse of "fuck" becomes quickly tiresome and none of the characters are remotely likable, which makes it hard to care about their plights. What's the point of having everyone in the film be an insufferable asshole? I found myself laughing on numerous occasions because the characters were so obnoxious and ridiculous. Kaya Scodelario does an admirable job as Claire, although she doesn't have her signature ponytail. She's a fierce and formidable character with a strong survival instinct and a good knowledge of guns. Unfortunately, the rest of the cast comes up short and fails to be interesting, and the casting of Hannah John-Kamen as Jill Valentine is utterly baffling. The least they could have done was give her the right hair or some identifiable trait. Admittedly, I appreciated how they painted Leon Kennedy as an annoying loser, because that's exactly what he is in "Resident Evil 2." However, much like the rest of the film, they push that characterization a little too far and it becomes abrasive instead of amusing. Subtlety is not the film's strong suit.
The film reminded me a lot of "Silent Hill: Revelation" (2012) in that the filmmakers were so preoccupied with the details and references to the source material that they forgot about the story. The film often feels more like "Silent Hill" than "Resident Evil" with its creepy orphanage and school footage, and a pink rabbit that could pass as Robbie even shows up in the opening minutes. The pacing is dreadfully slow and the film is dominated by pointless and offensive banter that fails to support a narrative or build any of the characters. It takes an hour for the Spencer Mansion and Raccoon City Police Department to become key locations, and by then it's too late to care. The action scenes are weak and difficult to follow, and the visual effects are unconvincing. There's no music score to speak of, but there are lots of spooky cues and stingers which heighten the tension for the inevitable jump scares. While its heart is in the right place, the film is a disappointing and misguided effort that lacks any common sense and feels like something that Uwe Boll would have directed. As ridiculous as Paul Anderson's films in the series were, at least they weren't dull and they offered up some amount of entertainment value. Ada Wong (Lily Gao) makes a brief appearance in a post-credits scene that teases a sequel, but I have a hard time believing that will ever happen.