Resident Evil: Apocalypse

Funny thing about zombies. They just won’t stay dead.
The living dead make another appearance in Resident Evil: Apocalypse, a by-the-numbers sequel to the 2002 film based on the popular series of video games. Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, the original Resident Evil was a nasty exercise in blood and guts, an insular thriller about a small band of survivors trapped in an underground top secret lab with mutant zombies.

Zombie movies work best in tight quarters, where the lumbering living dead don’t need to run wind sprints to devour their prey. The best zombie films, George Romero’s Living Dead trilogy, took place in an abandoned farmhouse, an abandoned shopping mall, and an abandoned missile silo.

The original Resident Evil took place in an experimental city buried deep beneath the surface, accessible only by special transport. Apocalypse takes place in Raccoon City, which has been overrun by zombies. Cordoned off by the government, Raccoon City becomes a haven for the living dead and a handful of survivors, including former head of security Alice (Milla Jovovich).

Alice is joined by two equally strong female characters, a former cop (Sienna Guillory) and a trapped television reporter (Sandrine Holt), a kick-ass trio that put Charlie’s Angels to shame. The women are joined by various types (security officers who lack training, a wise cracking smart ass) who tag along as menu items.

Anderson’s screenplay is functional but not very imaginative. More than the first film, Apocalypse looks and feels like a video game. The dialogue is simple, the performances pointed and direct. Director Alexander Witt, making his debut, seems content to make a film that would seem more at home as a 3-minute MTV video than a feature film. He uses rapid-firing editing to disguise the generic story mechanics and action, but it doesn’t take a Rain Man to see through the charade.

Anderson’s script goes for the jugular, content to fill the screen with carnage. Carnage is good, but it lacks reason if we can’t support the characters. What we end up with is a film that has as much a conscience as a video game. Point, shoot, kill. Boring.

Jovovich acts like she’s on auto drive, a far cry from the spirited warrior she played in Resident Evil. Don’t blame the actress, who proved she can kick zombie butt with the best of them. Too bad she couldn’t kick some sense into the writer and director.

Evil Surfaces in Apocalypse

Resident sequel offers more of the same


Milla Jovovich, Sienna Guillory, Oded Fehr, Jared Harris, Thomas Kretschmann, Sophie Vavasseur, Raz Adoti. Directed by Alexander Witt. Rated R. 94 Minutes.


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