I’ve come to love Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil film series. It’s a mess, but the gonzo-gobsmack of the sheer gall it takes to make six films to highlight how attractive you think your wife is (Anderson would continue this trend with Monster Hunter) impresses me. I’ve always wanted something closer to the tone of the original games and so, it seems, did Hollywood. After years of discussion and scripts, we’ve finally gotten the start of a new film series that is meant to draw from the video games they take the titles from.
So it’s a shame that Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is so boring.
Turning to look back at the games I can easily see how this happened. The characters are all thin, so adding anything to them takes padding. The story involves a lot of puzzles and intricate machinations about the evils of capitalism, which is fun to play and not super fun to watch. The monsters are interesting, but without a thorough explanation of the T-Virus, they don’t make much sense outside of the basic zombies.
It’s frustrating to watch some of the most interesting choices take a backseat to a boring plot. Hannah John-Kamen as Jill Valentine is a treasure, but she’s only onscreen for a little while and doesn’t do too much more than snark. Neal McDonough seems aware of what a win he is for this production, but he falls prey to the film series’s penchant for taking brilliant actors and turning them into CGI monsters. Even turning composer Mark Korven (The Lighthouse, The Witch) loose on the score doesn’t help much. It’s frustrating to sit through so much talent doing so little with the minuscule material they have at hand.
Kaya Scodelario and Robbie Amell are the roughest performances in the film, so it’s a shame they’re playing the leads Claire and Chris Redfield. These are two legacy characters for the franchise, originally played by Ali Larter and Wentworth Miller, are completely lifeless and it’s just a massive let-down to anyone that was looking forward to this film. Scodelario, who has run mazes and played with pirates, is a performer that seems like she should be a talent and has never been able to land a film worth her time. Amell is the younger brother of Stephen Amell, the lead on CW’s Arrow, and he’s got about the same amount of range (none at all).
Look, I’m frustrated that this wasn’t better. A zombie movie can be contemplative, interesting, and even have a valid point to make, but what it damned well better not be is boring. Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is a two-hour nap of a film, one that I urge you all to avoid at any cost.
I’m sure Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City is still playing somewhere, but why would you do that to yourself?