Resident Evil: Extinction is the third film in the Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil series (not to be confused with the vastly superior Sony Pictures series that actually ties into the game series), and is possibly one of the worst of the series.
The Resident Evil films are a hugely mixed bag, with some films working, and most often those that do not very well, but Resident Evil: Extinction suffers because it’s at that point in the series where it still wants to make a halfway serious film, before just embracing the ridiculous in the much more enjoyable Resident Evil: Afterlife and Resident Evil: Retribution.
Resident Evil: Extinction picks up several years after the events of the second film, in a world where the T-Virus spread beyond Raccoon City, destroying civilisation as we know it. The virus has not only turned most people into the undead, but has killed off plant life, and dried up lakes and rivers. Whilst this makes no sense what so ever, it does enable the film to set itself in a new desert location.
Due to this dramatic shift in the setting the film does at least have a look and feel that sets is apart from the rest of the series, with dark claustrophobic environments replaced with settings that look more at home in a Mad Max film.
Because of this shift to bright outdoor locations that film does sadly lack in the horror department, relying instead on action in order to keep the audience entertained. Thankfully, this is something that the film does very well, with a number of well crafted and visually impressive set pieces spread throughout. One of the downsides of this focus on action is Milla Jovovich, however, who returns yet again as Alice, though now with superhuman abilities.
Building on the end of the second film, where Alice had begun to exhibit psychic powers due to her exposure to the virus, she is now seen using telekinetic and pyrokinetic powers throughout, performing actions that no ordinary human could accomplish. Sadly this adds little to the film, making Alice less of a character and more of a story device.
The film does bring back some other series characters in Oded Fehr’s Carlos Olivera and Mike Epps’ L.J., though no mention is made of Jill Valentine or Angella or what might have happened to them since the last film. Resident Evil: Extinction would also be the first appearance of game favourite character Claire Redfield, who would go on to appear in the series multiple times.
Due to the short run time of the film, and the need to include extensive action sequences these characters are largely underserved, with little extra characterisation being given to Carlos and L.J. before their deaths, and Claire being so underutilised that she may as well not have been Claire Redfield at all.
Despite this, the cast does manage to do well with what little they are given, and all of the performances are fairly strong, though Iain Glen is probably the most enjoyable, clearly relishing playing an over the top villain.
Sadly, he’s less interesting once he becomes the Tyrant monster from the original Resident Evil game in order to fight Alice, a fight that feels too short and lacklustre.
Possibly due to the film originally being designed as an end to the series (though it would go on for another three films) it does feel that it tries to cram too much content into too short a run time, trying to end everything in a satisfying way. Ideally, the film would either have been longer, though that may not be the best choice, or it would have benefitted from tighter writing.
Like every other film in the Resident Evil series there are some good points, though they’re often lost amidst the bad decisions. Fans of action films will be sure to get enjoyment out of the flashy spectacle, and general viewers may be entertained. Unfortunately, those in the audience that are fans of the source material will find little of the series that they enjoy in the final product.
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