Resident Evil (2002)
A Film Review
Copyright Dragan Antulov 2005
Big screen adaptations of popular video games are widely perceived as a futile task, but there are some filmmakers able to perform that task better than others. Paul W.S. Anderson created such reputation with his work on MORTAL KOMBAT. Few years later he began to adapt RESIDENT EVIL, Japanese video game often cited as the first example of horror survival genre. Result of Anderson's effort is 2002 film that created a franchise of its own.
The plot, set in the near future, begins in huge underground laboratory owned by Umbrella Corporation, business entity whose products are present 90 % of all American households. What homemakers don't know is the fact that Umbrella makes most of its profits to biogenetic research. Most of that research has been conducted in "Hive", huge underground lab complex. An accidental release of deadly T-virus triggers gassing of the whole complex and deaths of 500 scientists and officials. Team of special operatives comes to "Hive" to investigate, and their only help is Alice (played by Milla Jovovich), amnesiac woman who used to be "Umbrella" security agent. All of them would have to deal with "Red Queen", supercomputer that had them trapped in order to prevent further spreading of disease, but also with small army of hungry zombies created by virus.
All those expecting to see particularly complex plot, intriguing characters or exploration of important social issues are most likely to be disappointed with RESIDENT EVIL. Anderson, who also wrote the script for the film, is more interested in the "high concept" he borrowed from the game - fighting zombies in dark corridors - and his strictly technical approach has resulted in a film that would satisfy the fans of horror action genre. Berlin studios were put to good use and contributed a lot to somewhat surreal atmosphere of the film, same as the use of techno soundtrack. The film borrowed few elements from other genre classics, most notably ALIENS, so RESIDENT EVIL features not one, but two strong female protagonists. Michelle Rodriguez is very effective in her role, but she can't steal the show from Milal Jovovich. Although she appears scantilly clad for most of the film, Jovovich proves not only that she can act, but also that she can carry the film like an action heroine. That potential was recognised but not properly used by her ex-husband Luc Besson. Anderson didn't repeat this mistake, but there are times when RESIDENT EVIL looks unfinished or below its potential, especially in the scenes featuring tragically underused German actress Heike Makatsch. Yet, even with these flaws RESIDENT EVIL deserves recommendation as a flawed but generally entertaining piece of genre cinema.
RATING: 5/10 (++)