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Resident Evil: Extinction

RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION is part 3. It takes place five years after part 2, APOCALYPSE, and was released five years after the first film in the series. It has a different style and tone, a little more serious, a little more grounded, but still pulpy, and it really works.

The opening tricked me. It begins so much like the first film – Milla Jovovich as Alice waking up naked and confused in the mansion, putting on the red dress and boots – that I thought I might’ve rented the wrong one. But she explores the place and ends up in a hallway in the Hive with the lasers and booby traps and one of them shoots and… gulp… kills her. Then some guys in biohazard suits appear, take the body up to the surface and throw it in a ditch. The camera pulls out to show a whole pile of dead Alices. And by the way, they’re all wearing that same outfit. I don’t know if that makes sense that they would have duplicate outfits to give these clones they keep testing, but if not it’s better than making sense. Nobody wants to see them wearing different outfits.

It turns out this is not the same Hive in the greatest city in the world, Raccoon City, USA. (I have family near Raccoon City and it’s a beautiful part of the country, great people, etc.) This Hive is the one in Nevada. But shit has gotten bad. The T-virus spread across the whole world in a matter of months, and not only zombified people but dried up the rivers. The world is a desert and Alice is now a MAD MAX inspired post-apocalyptic drifter on a motorcycle. Like everyone in this movie she wears brown desert clothes: a duster, a scarf, goggles, fingerless gloves, leather boots and straps, but under all that she has garters, a little bit of thigh exposed. I’m sure even just in filming this it was a big problem for sunburn and getting sand in there, but it’s that little touch that says “this is not the real world, this is RESIDENT EVIL, you guys.” It works.

As happens in the post-apocalypse, she gets tricked and abducted by a cannibal redneck family (the old fake baby routine). While tied up she kills one of them with a single head kick, and then has to fight some of those mutant dobermans (which look amazing, and I can’t tell if they really made up dogs or made them wear mo-cap suits).

Meanwhile, there’s this caravan of toughs led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter, OBSESSED) and they include our old part 2 friends Carlos (Oded Fehr, THE MUMMY RETURNS) and L.J. (Mike Epps, BAIT, who by this time had been waiting two years to play Richard Pryor in a biopic that never happened). At a glance they look like a paramilitary squad, but then you realize that their reinforced vehicles include a school bus, a news van and an SUV that says “Brentwood Lady Nails and Pedicure” on the side. One thing that’s different from other post-apocalypses: computers still work, so they can set up perimeter cameras and watch from a laptop. I guess if you think about it taking away this series’ ability to cut to computer readouts would be like chopping off one of its legs.

They set up camp in a town 89 miles outside of Las Vegas and not far from Alice. She ignores their radio broadcasts for survivors while flipping through her journal full of maps, notes and duct-taped photos that tell us that she’s trying to get to Alaska because somebody else’s transmission told her it was safe there.

Wait a minute, didn’t that shot of her eyes at the end of part 2 imply that she was secretly an evil shill for the Umbrella Corp? That’s what I thought, but actually it just means she’s growing more scary-powerful, mostly in a telekinesis type of way but also because her brain can uplink to their satellites! Back at the lab they’re trying to create a clone that’s as good as her, but it’s not working out. But waking up Alice Clone #87 causes a psychic blast that 1) allows the bad guys to locate her and 2) destroys her motorcycle. So she walks over to the convoy in time to rescue them from a murder of zombie crows. They’re the only overly computery effect in the movie, but it’s a unique enough idea that it still plays pretty well.

After firestartering the birds away Alice collapses. Carlos runs and catches her in a “good to see you” hug. It’s so well executed that for a second it made me think I really cared about these characters. I don’t know about that, but I like Alice. One thing I noticed is that when she wakes up in a strange place with a young woman called K-Mart (Spencer Locke, THE BLING RING tv version) all up in her grill she’s immediately nice to her. The obvious choice for a skinny model playing a badass desert drifter would be for her to act gruff and bitter and only soften up later. Alice doesn’t waste time with that shit.

Eventually she convinces them all of her Alaska plan and together they go to mostly-buried Vegas for the supplies they’ll need for the trip. Like, I imagine, travel sized toiletries and stuff. Instead they find an ambush from the Umbrella people led by psycho Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen, LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, HARRY BROWN, the Jack Taylor series), who in this one turns into a tentacled monster. In other series turning points, we lose both of the returning part 2 characters. L.J. is the one who gets the “hides from everyone that he’s been bitten” arc (cutting off his romance with hot medic Ashanti) and poor Carlos has to be the one to shoot him and gets bit by him. But at least he gets a heroic kamikaze death as they attack the Hive.

Underground, Alice discovers the lab where they keep all the clones of her. There’s a cool moment where one of them gets knocked out of her bubble and you get a clothed Milla Jovovich holding a naked Milla Jovovich. And that’s gotta be somebody’s fetish, so merry Christmas to that person. I read that at one point this was supposed to be the last movie, but they must’ve changed their mind when they filmed the oh-shit-it’s-on ending where Alice vows to come after the board of the Umbrella Corporation with a few of her friends… an army of Milla Jovoviches! It’s such a cool ending I forgave that they completely abandoned the idea that they’re trying to go to Alaska.

The silly character of Jill Valentine is not in this one because the actress was committed to what she might’ve expected would be a bigger franchise, ERAGON. I guess she would’ve been the one leading the convoy, but I like that they replaced the character instead of the actress, because it makes sense that over five years L.J. and Carlos hooked up with other survivors.

Paul W.S. Anderson returns as writer and producer, but the director is Russell Mulcahy (RAZORBACK, THE HIGHLANDER, RICOCHET). Some gossiper told me that Mulcahy could not fulfill his duties and that it’s mostly directed by the second unit guy, which would be Douglas Aarniokoski. If true, that would mean it’s not really from the director of THE HIGHLANDER, but HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME. Aarniokoski also directed NURSE 3D, and as a second unit guy worked on many Full Moon and Robert Rodriguez movies. But I have to say, there is a part where light comes through a spinning fan, an early Mulcahy trademark. Anyway, whoever did it I think did a good job. I legitimately liked this one.

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.

This entry was posted on Wednesday, January 25th, 2017 at 9:50 am and is filed under Action, Horror, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

11 Responses to “Resident Evil: Extinction”

  1. I never cared for the first two. Extinction was the entry where I started getting real interested. This one and the fourth one are my favorites. 5 was a big step backward.

  2. ZOMBIE KICKER 3: ATTACK OF THE GOOGLY EYE CROWS

    I’m torn on this one. It’s without a doubt the classiest, the one that really tries to be epic and has the most competent director, who adds some nice visual gimmicks to it from time to time. (Like the long pull out shot from within the overturned truck.) And it’s the first time in the serious, where I too gave a crap about the characters or their story. And when the movie works, it truly works.

    Still, there are too many stretches that are simply boring and all its qualities aren’t good enough to actually call it “good”. But since that didn’t stop me from enjoying any of the other movies in the series, I still like it. BE prepared for the next installments, when the series goes REALLY batshit bonkers (and unfortunately the “we ignore the last movie’s great cliffhanger” modus operandi becomes the series’ most frustrating trademark.)

  3. This one is my favorite of the series, though I enjoy the whole batch when I’m in the mood for some basic dumb entertainment.

  4. My favorite of the series. I actually hated Resident Evil enough when I saw it, that I didn’t even bother with the sequel until just before this one came out and my girlfriend at the time really wanted to see it. This was big step up in pretty much every way.

    Another random bit of trivia. This was probably the loudest movie I have ever seen in a theatre. The mine thing or whatever that kills the clone at the beginning was so loud it hurt your ears and the “shinging” sound her knives made when she was killing those amped up zombie dudes in Vegas was ear piercing. Good times!

  5. Yes, EXTINCTION is truly the TOKYO DRIFT and GOLDFINGER of the RESIDENT EVIL cinematic series. At this point the series was 1/0 with me and wasn’t all that jazzed about it because of how much I didn’t enjoy the last one. But this immediately took hold of me due to much better editing and filmatism. (mentioned the following in the thread to the first movie) Then to put a cherry on top, it had a scene so utterly stupid and ridiculous that it made me love the series and excited to see more: the bad guys shut down Alice and then she manually reboots herself but she is not a robot and I don’t think has any cybernetics in her. After that a Ukranian super model fights a Shakespearean actor in heavy latex monster-makeup.

    Damn guys, as much as I love 5 now that I am talking about 3 I think it is my favorite. I also agree with Rymar in the first movie’s thread that this one has the best Alice costume.

    Never heard that rumor about Mulcahy not really directing this movie before. That said, I’ve seen all of Mulcahy’s movies and I’ve seen HIGHLANDER: ENDGAME, if true then Aarniokoski deserves a most-improved director award of some kind. Not sure I buy it, it looks and feels like a Mulcahy-joint, but who knows, Mulcahy had long since stopped caring by this point and this movie feels like it was made by someone who was hungry. I was even hoping that this would bring him back into the big time or at least semi-big time and nope: went right back to doing passionless direct-to-video crap. If the story is true of him not finishing the movie, then that makes sense.

  6. Enjoying this series of reviews Vern. I haven’t seen the most recent but I’m not going to argue with the consensus here. This is the nearest the series gets to a legitimately decent film. I was also disappointed that it didn’t giveMulcahy’s career a kickstart. Would love to see a review of Highlander at some point: one of me and my friends’ favourites growing up.

    A few years ago I set ou on a quest to watch as many films based on fighting games as I could. My conclusion was that DOA was the easily the most fun and probably the best of all game movies.

  7. The Cosh: I think we can be friends.

    I also want to second a HIGHLANDER series of reviews. I only enjoy the first two but the series is interesting in that whenever you think it can’t get worse, the next one is much, much worse. I really like the first one but even I have to admit it’s more for the idea than the execution (also Queen soundtrack).

  8. Just watched this one a couple of days ago and really dug it. It’s the first one to really come together for me. More competent, consistent tone, and plenty of ridiculous shit. I love that they give zero explanation on how a virus can make rivers dry up. Whatever, virus’ do that. They get thirsty. Shut up.

  9. “a clothed Milla Jovovich holding a naked Milla Jovovich. And that’s gotta be somebody’s fetish, so merry Christmas to that person”

    pretty sure his name is paul ws anderson ;)

  10. Oh boy… as someone who has a half-hearted affection for the first one (grew up with the games and saw the movie in the theater with a girl I was crushing on in high school, I can say without hesitation that I despise the rest of the franchise. Part 2 got so goddamn dumb, and it seems to only fail upwards from there. The point of no return for me happened in Extinction when we’re introduced to K-Mart. Someone asks her why they call her K-Mart and she responds with such sincerity, “Because that’s where they found me.” As if she was some babbling toddler that couldn’t talk or remember her own name. Come on, you’re practically an adult! Just because you’re in the midst of a biological apocalypse doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten or are willing to forgo your name and identity. I’m surprised the rest of the crew didn’t introduce themselves as Ground Round and Dress Barn. Maybe a minor nitpick in a series full of ridiculous moments, but that was the tipping point for me, when I said I can’t even have this on as background noise any longer.

  11. I’m watching these now for the first time and this was the first one where I was actively interested. I agree with you Vern that the Carlos/Alice reunion had more poignancy than I expected, and that Jovovich and Fehr bring more to the table than perhaps this material deserves, but I’m not going to complain about it. The monster boss at the end is a huge step up from the dry plastic look of Nemesis in APOCALYPSE. This was a pleasant surprise. I also thought I had started the first movie again.

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