Resident Evil: Extinction (2007) dir. Russell Mulcahy
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter
Not having ever played the video game, nor seen either of the two other Resident Evil films, I was surprised to discover that "Resident Evil: Exinction" is a well-crafted stand-alone action film. Much of the credit, I think, should go to director Russell Mulcahy, a veteran director of action films going back to the 80's. Sure, it's another zombie film with some blatant theft from "The Road Warrior", but with likeable characters and well-crafted action, scope and drama, it makes for a good entertainment.
Milla Jovovich plays Alice, a woman who seemingly has lost her memory and has woken up in laboratory facility. She makes her way out of the room, when memories of deadly booby traps in the room come back to her. She evades a few but is killed. Is this the real Alice? Apparently not - only a clone created by an evil corporation studying the effects a deadly virus that swept the earth and turned almost everyone into zombies. A few survivors remain including the real Alice who wanders the desert in search of answers to the cause of her troubles.
Alice teams up with a rogue convoy led by the tough Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). When Alice meets up with the convoy she is reunited with her old friend from previous adventures Carlos Oliveira (Oded Fehr). Alice gives the group hope with information about a safezone in Alaska where civilization has continued. As the group descends on Las Vegas to find suitable transportation, Alice finds a different destiny, discovering the source of her strange new super human powers.
As I was watching the film I knew there was a backstory which I didn't fully understand, but the holes and gaps I filled in on my own added to the discovery of the film. The corporate subplot is hokey and overdramatized, specifically the nefarious CEO who insists on wearing sunglasses to his meetings.
From a design perspective though the corporate headquarters is pretty cool. As we transition from the zombie-infested outside world, the picture turns into a skematic grid which then tracks the underground corridors and tunnels underneath the land where the corporation resides.
There are several top notch action sequences that move it beyond any b-movie territory. The best is the zombie crow attack sequence which features hundreds of crows attacking the desert convoy. It's like "The Birds" except they're zombie-Birds. The special effects are fantastic and Mulcahy shoots it with the confidence of a director with years of experience. Which he has.
Mulcahy directed the first two "Highlander" films as well as the underrated psycho thriller "Ricochet". Lately he's been paying the bills with cable television, but it keeps him sharp and able to take over a franchise like this one and keep it alive and kicking. Give "Resident Evil" and Russell Mulchay a chance. Enjoy.
"Resident Evil: Extinction" is available this week on DVD from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.