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Resident Evil

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2002 1 Jan
Resident Evil
from Film Forum, 03/21/02

Writer/director Paul Anderson (Event Horizon, Soldier) turned the video game Mortal Kombat into a successful movie, and now he's got more game with Resident Evil. Michelle Rodriguez (Girlfight) plays a heavy artillery commando who follows amnesiac Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element) into a sealed-off labyrinth called "the Hive." There a virus has turned former employees into zombies of all shapes, sizes, and gross-out capabilities. It may sound like a realistic exposé on modern life at the office, but alas, no: instead it's another hyperviolent actioner, sending the heavily-armed ladies from one violent confrontation to the next in an attempt to explosively evict these stubborn Residents.

Religious press critics sound like the movie has numbed them into zombies. The USCCB's critic writes, "Anderson's frenetic sci-fi flick has an absurd story that uses explicit violence and tuneless, ear-piercing music to fill in cavernous narrative holes."

Paul Bicking (Preview) speaks from experience with video games. "Having played older video games, such as the classic Doom where the odds in battles get increasingly greater, it's difficult to call such masochism entertainment. Although, there is a certain satisfaction in finally surviving to the next level." The movie, he argues, is a different story: "The continuing desensitization to violence and vulgar language earns our strongest vote against moving in with Resident Evil."

Michael Elliott writes, "I found its incessant macabre violence to be both repetitive and tiresome." He makes a distinction between Resident's sort of evil and the nature of true evil: "The depiction of the zombies … is reminiscent of our own spiritual adversary with one important exception … the devil isn't brain dead. He's smart and wily, and he wants to devour us with the same level of intensity as the undead of the film."

Bob Smithouser (Focus on the Family) finds the film "far too violent, gory and ridiculous to make me care about who sabotaged the lab or why. I just wanted the rampage to end."

"The filmmakers should have at least given their audience something to cheer about in the end," writes Tom Snyder (Movieguide). "Otherwise, what's the point of even making such a movie like this?"

Ebert shakes his head at the film's ludicrous action sequences. "There is one neat effect when characters unwisely venture into a corridor and the door slams shut on them. Then a laser beam passes at head level, decapitating one. Another beam whizzes past at waist level, cutting the second in two while the others duck. A third laser pretends to be high but then switches to low, but the third character outsmarts it by jumping at the last minute. Then the fourth laser turns into a grid that dices its victim into pieces the size of a Big Mac. Since the grid is inescapable, what were the earlier lasers about? Does the corridor have a sense of humor?"

MaryAnn Johanson ridicules "a rather breathtaking lack of attempts at creating characters and a brazen avoidance of any semblance of a story or even a logical procession from one scene to the next. It's about really loud hard rock music drowning out the nonsense and making the whole affair feel like a 100-minute music video."