Paul W. S. Anderson
- Milla Jovovich as Alice
- Michelle Rodriguez as Rain
- Eric Mabius as Matt
- James Purefoy as Spence
- Martin Crewes as Kaplan
- Colin Salmon as One
If you’re looking for a film with enduring substance, Resident Evil is not the film for you. But if you crave a popcorn movie with action aplenty, bloody combat and a kick ass heroine, it may be the film you have been looking for. Although far from perfect, Resident Evil delivers on the sci-fi action/horror front with rapid editing, inventive methods of death and a ghoulish score by Marco Beltrami and goth rocker Marilyn Manson that keeps suspense ever-present.
The plot revolves around a genetic research facility called The Hive situated under Racoon City, which is owned by the mysterious Umbrella Corporation. In the labs, a strain of bacteria called the T-Virus is released into the air by a thief causing the airtight security to be breached. In response, The Red Queen, an artificial intelligence system seals all of the doors and kills everybody inside. Not long after this, a young women named Alice wakes up suffering from amnesia in a mansion that conceals The Hive. She is shortly after joined by a band of commandos who work with the corporation, who inform her of what happened underground. Still recovering from amnesia, Alice joins them as they travel underground to find out why The Red Queen shut down the secret labs. But what awaits them is not so easy, as the workers who were killed are not really dead. They have now become ravenous zombies who infect others by biting, the victims of this will eventually succumb to the primal need to feed. If that wasn’t enough, they must also battle the malicious security system intent on their demise.
I figured I would get the negatives out the way first before commenting on the positive notes. Although thrilling in parts, the characters are not really an interesting bunch except Alice, who becomes a capable kick-ass heroine and Rain, the sarcastic commando. The other characters serve only the purpose in progressively brutal ways, if they had been fleshed out more it would have sustained interest. This isn’t helped by the screenplay that relegates dialogue to the background and doesn’t allow us to understand the characters. Although the frenetic editing does sometimes add to the overall life or death situation, it eventually becomes stale through overuse.
Now on to the positive things in the movie. Paul W. S. Anderson manages to generate suspense through his choice of lighting and set design, as well as some gruesome effects including rabid Doberman’s with the insatiable need to kill. The ghostly atmosphere is further heightened by Marco Beltrami and Marilyn Manson’s eerie score, that keeps the hairs standing up on the back of your neck as the horror gets more brutal. The action sequences are inventive and pulse pounding to say the least; the best example when the remaining characters have to carefully walk along elevated pipes whilst ravenous zombies to attempt to clamber up in search of their next meal. From an acting point of view, the two people to watch are Milla Jovovich and Michelle Rodriguez who both create capable heroines. Jovovich emits a silent sullen quality as she regains her memory and boy does she kick ass when she gets in touch with her tough inner strength. Michelle Rodriguez ably follows this act as the no-nonsense Rain, who still retains her humour even after facing the knowledge she will become one of the zombies after being infected.
So all in all, Resident Evil is derivative and not particularly original. But it does deliver on the action front and creates a sexy heroine who you don’t want to mess with. It won’t make for dramatic and thought-provoking viewing, but it does make a good popcorn movie.