In the third installment of the Resident Evil series, Resident Evil: Extinction, Paul W.S. Anderson tries to reanimate the original film's sense of purpose and worth.
As we all know, Hollywood has an extensive history of making good film franchises fester and rot with unparalleled sequels, however, as of late there has been a redemption motif attributed to the trilogy franchises that have filled our theaters all year. Pirates: At World's End restored some sparkle to the Disney juggernaut, Ocean's 13 turned out to be a well-received surprise and Resident Evil: Extinction pushes towards the same restoration after one of the worst sequels to one of the best video game adaptations ever filmed. Under Anderson's script, the film succeeds in outshining the horrendous Apocalypse (also written by Anderson), but never proves to stand next to Anderson's original horror masterpiece.
Milla Jovovich returns as Alice, the zombie-slaughtering horror bride that won us over in 2002. Despite every fault in the Resident Evil trilogy, Jovovich has remained credible and may even be considered the driving force in the achievement of the films. In Resident Evil: Extinction, she is no different; Alice still dispatches the malformed undead as if it were an Olympic sport, but this time around she has a chance at saving the world. In the film's main plot, Alice's blood holds the key to perfecting a minor reversal serum that will give cognitive faculties to infected humans, curbing their desire to feed on flesh.
This leads the Umbrella Corporation (with Iain Glen reprising his role as the malevolent Dr. Isaacs) to once again hunt the beautifully dangerous Alice. What the plot doesn't do is surprise. At no point can the audience be confused since every event seems blotchy and predictable. Still, the film looks to build suspense through the horror sequences. The zombie standoffs have their cute headshots and havoc, but the action occurs infrequently between spans of story that never grab hold of its audience.
The supporting cast does nothing momentous to boost the quality of the flick, instead puttering along (like the storyline) and serving the role of zombie-bait. Mike Epps (Next Friday) and Oded Fehr (The Mummy movies) return from the second film. Epps was obviously worked into Anderson's script as comic relief, except he is not funny - at all. Fehr, who plays ex-Umbrella soldier Carlos Olivera, handles his lines capably, albeit unremarkably. Ali Larter of NBC's Heroes comes into the franchise as Claire, a central character from the game who was left out until now. Her role as a leading tough girl would have worked if the film did not already have Jovovich.
What the film does do is to pay it's debt to the film that started it all. Extinction's opening scene even emulates the second scene in the original (the introduction of Alice). However deft this may have seemed to Anderson and his nearly valueless director Russell Mulcahy (Highlander, The Shadow), it is bludgeonly obvious that the latest edition cannot hold a heavy-barrelled pistol to the first.
The result is a forfeited knock-off of the original perpetrated by the same mastermind. Nonetheless, anything is an improvement on Apocalypse.