Fear and anxiety? Get off of it. Learn to accept blood, bullets and the sounds of necks breaking. This is “Resident Evil: Extinction.”
The original zombie films played on the Red Scare-era containment anxiety and other social unease, and it seems there’s not much left for the modern zombie movie. While the first “Resident Evil” – in which a nondescript group battles the spread of an infectious lab-created viral strain called the “T-Virus” – tapped into this vein a little, the sequel shifted the series toward a more action-packed genre piece. “Extinction” goes further in the latter direction, straying from what could have been a frightening trilogy.
So where “Resident Evil: Extinction” succeeds as an action movie, it fails miserably as a zombie-horror flick. It barely attempts horror at all. Climaxing violins fill the background while a weaponless woman explores a dark room. Unsurprisingly, a zombie jumps on the woman. Struggle ensues, etc., ad nauseam.
After Umbrella Corp., a nefarious medical and biological weapons organization, futilely tries to control a breakout of the T-Virus in Raccoon City, the disease-inspiring reanimation of dead cells and an unwavering hunger for live flesh spreads through the United States and then quickly to the rest of the world. Affecting more than just humans, most of the world’s resources dry up and all land becomes desert.
A few survivors find themselves constantly on the move so as not to attract flesh predators. Alice (Milla Jovovich, “Ultraviolet”) is both tracking and being tracked by Umbrella. She has been a test subject, and she wants revenge, as well as to end corrupt experimentation that violates the right to life and propagates the deadly outbreak. It’s a stretch. But it’s a video game adaptation, so it’s OK, right?
Speaking of which, the structure is straight video. Alice progresses level through level, encountering new challenges, overcoming more obstacles and eventually meeting up with an ultimate baddy boss of the game. I mean movie. Whatever.
Jovovich’s athletic-model physique is exploited to the point of boredom. Flying kicks from rooftops reveal her never-ending legs until they meet the face of a gaunt and malnourished ghoul. Plenty of close-ups emphasize her hypnotic eyes, which also indicate her struggling with whatever computer chip is in her brain.
And herein lies the redeeming aspect of what should be a scarier movie: Alice is battling the evils inside. Over the course of three movies, she can’t seem to conquer this demon inside that keeps her alive but also leads to destruction. She is the key to Umbrella’s studies; even her sacrifice fuels Umbrella’s experiments. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. So really, you might as well – and blow some shit up along the way.
At Quality 16 and Showcase
Rating: 2 out of 5 stars