In the annals of movies adapted from video games, there are far worse examples to be found. Anyone remember Super Mario Brothers? Street fighter? DOOM? How about Bloodrayne? At least the Resident Evil movies attempt to integrate some plot and acting into the mix – and, let’s face it, none of the other movies have Milla Jovovich as their star. With the possible exception exception of Jason Statham, she’s a better actor than the current crop of male action stars – which is mostly why Extinction is worth seeing at all.
The plot boils down to this: Umbrella Corp. is trying to figure out how to use Alice’s [Jovovich] DNA to domesticate The Infected to create a cheap labor force, thereby enabling them to reclaim the planet and make it over in their image. Meanwhile, a few dozen unifected are travelling in a ragtag convoy – always looking for somewhere they can get a good night’s sleep and a good cuppa joe [The Infected, of course, are drawn to the uninfected in some arcane manner] without having to have eyes in the backs of their heads.
The convoy’s leader, Claire [Ali Larter], is as good looking a survivor as you’ll ever see – at least that doesn’t have Alice Project DNA. She is ably assisted by a couple of guys we know from the previous films: L.J. [Mike Epps] and Carlos [Oded Fehr]. New to us, but not Claire’s convoy, are: a cowboy [Chase, played by Linden Ashby], a medic [Betty, played by Ashanti], a communications guy [Mikey, played by Christopher Egan], and a spunky kid [K-Mart, played by Spencer Locke].
Of the lot, K-Mart is the most intriguing because: she takes her name from the store where she was holed up when the convoy found her; everyone she knew is dead; and she didn’t much care for her real name and figured it was time for a change. If we didn’t know Carlos and L.J. from the previous films, we’d know less about them than we do her. We know even less of this episode’s AI [dubbed White Queen and played with childlike solemnity by Madeline Carroll], though she is as pivotal to the action as her late cousin, Red Queen].
Naturally, the Big Bad remains the egocentric [though not as brilliant as he thinks he is] Dr. Isaacs [Iain Glen], who’s doing the research to adapt Alice’s DNA into a means to domesticate The Infected. When he exclaims [to Alice] at one point, “You’re not the future – I am!” her response pretty much sums up villains of every stripe [and is the best line in a movie that has all too few good ones].
And what about Alice? Well, let’s just say that the glimmerings of the paranormal in the previous movies pay off here – big time! Oh, and the lovely Ms. Jovovich not only plays the lead but several cameos [not all of which are particularly flattering]. Her acting chops may seem wasted in lowbrow actioners like these, but between them and her willingness to do all but the craziest of stunts, give the film what center it has.
Although Paul W.S. Anderson [Mr. Jovovich-to-be] hasn’t exactly topped himself here, director Russell Mulcahy [whose one real triumph is Highlander] moves things along at a hectic enough pace that they’ve zipped by before we’ve had time to think about them. He even manages to make the Hitchcock homages [those nasty crows...] work [more or less].
Overall, though, Resident Evil: Extinction remains not much more than ninety minutes of reasonably well designed mayhem and four minutes of closing credits. Since this is a step up from the previous films, perhaps its open ending is a good thing. Now that the series has reach the heights of being dead average, maybe a fourth episode might toptoe into the realm of slighty-better-than…
Final Grade: C