Sunday, 12 April 2009
Resident Evil: Extinction
RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION (2007)
Directed by: Russell Mulchay
Written by: Paul W.S. Anderson
Starring: Milla Jovovich, Iain Glen, Oded Fehr, Ali Larter & Mike Epps
Occasionally movie franchises get better as they go along and once in while even hit their stride with the third instalment (see also Mission Impossible 3). Resident Evil: Extinction is Part 3 in the ongoing zombie saga and by far the best. All three films have been written by Paul W.S. Anderson (he of Mortal Kombat and Death Race) himself having directed the first instalment. Not a great film by any means as it was bogged down in too much fast cut editing and ridiculously loud pseudo-metal music over the action scenes and zombie attacks. It did however introduce us to the sprightly and sexy character of Alice (Jovovich) who has been with the series from the get go. Part 2, Apocalypse, was much more entertaining, stuffed with cool action, more zombies but lacking in the tension department. Extinction, however, gets pretty much everything right for a fun and action packed zombie Mad Max flick and mercifully cuts down on all that fast editing (for the most part).
The T-virus (which sent everyone batty and flesh eating crazy in the first two flicks) has spread around the globe turning it into one huge dust bowl. The dead prowl the earth simply wanting to eat the alive and Alice roams the baron desert looking for answers and kicking a huge amount of zombie butt. Meanwhile evil Dr. Isaacs (Glen) is holed up in an underground base still experimenting on zombies and trying to find Alice. Her skills have developed ten fold, even to psychic abilities, and are now seen as the ultimate weapon: not least in battling the undead. But she refuses to be captured and teams up with a convoy of survivors (including some friends from Apocalypse) and the rag tag team of drifters’ device a plan to escape to where there is no dead and take down Isaacs and his evil corporation.
Now a lot of the reason why I like this entry, and why I probably think it’s the best, is the definite Mad Max vibe. Having loved those movies I appreciate the vibe Extinction was going for. The desert setting is captured in all its sun soaked glory and makes for a different background (as opposed to dark cities and enclosed underground facilities) for zombie action to play out against. Seeing the dead roam the desert is a novel visual treat, not least the homage to Day of the Dead with the dead surrounding the top of the underground facility and being held back by nothing more than a chain link fence. With a convoy ripping through the desert means we get ample scenes of souped up vehicles charging along, running over zombies and giving plenty of momentum to the film. A sand sunken Las Vegas also makes an appearance, the famous gambling city hidden under the desert. Though it must be made clear that only a small portion of the film takes part in Las Vegas despite the marketing suggesting the whole flick was set there.
Another reason this instalment works so well (besides the incredibly sexy Jovovich who has honed the lethal, zombie slaying Alice to perfection) is Russell’s Mulchay’s direction. Tight, crisp and allowing the action to play out for suspenseful effect, Mulchay brings his considerable talent to the franchise and it’s good to see him playing in the big budget movie world again. He will always be known for Highlander but the guy has made some great underrated flicks including the Denzel Washington thriller, Ricochet, and comic book adventure, The Shadow. He also knows how to do action and Extinction is packed with some fine set pieces along with the requisite zombie gut munching. The action sequences are often big and nicely sustained playing out in a suspenseful manner. These include a great bit where the convoy is attacked by a fleet of crows (a la Hitchcock’s The Birds) and another scene where they try to storm the compound by flipping a petrol tanker. However, the best action occurs in the Las Vegas set segment where the convoy is besieged by hordes of dead dudes meaning they have to fight back with guns, knives and their hands. Well shot and cut this scene sees Jovovich using her considerable martial arts talent to take down zombies while the rest rely on good old firepower. Exhilarating stuff and top zombie slaying action.
Mulchay just a fine job of juggling the various plot strands, characters, big action set pieces and some impressive special effects. The only downside being that the hour and twenty five minute run time doesn’t really do justice to all the strands of the story. Scenes have obviously been cut to keep the velocity going but the flick could have been a good ten minutes longer to flesh out ideas and characters a bit more. That said Iain Glen’s Dr Isaac’s gets a substantially bigger part this time around and much opportunity to be down right evil.
Great, big sci-fi action fun with some excellent set pieces, Resident Evil: Extinction is a fine piece of entertainment. Jovovich owns this franchise and it’s always great to see her in action, likewise with director Mulchay who should get more chance to direct big films like this and if there is a fourth instalment, bring him back to helm it.