Resident Evil: Afterlife is the fourth installment of the Resident Evil franchise. I haven’t seen the first three so I can’t comment on them, but the fourth one is basically a video game, only it’s a movie. Lots of action, not exactly deep.
At this point it has been four years since the Umbrella Corporation released a virus that turns people into zombies, and survivors are scarce on the ground. The film starts with Alice (Milla Jovovich), who has been given superpowers by the virus and is the only one to still be ok after exposure, taking out the Tokyo headquarters of the Umbrella Corporation. While there, she dukes it out with a superpowered baddie who injects her with serum that neutralizes her powers. She thanks him for making her human again, escapes him, and heads to Alaska looking for other survivors, including some friends who had been headed there. In Alaska, all she finds is a field full of small planes, the chopper her friends had taken to get there, an empty beach, and Claire (Ali Larter), one of her friends, drugged by a gadget on her chest, amnesiac and a little feral. The rest of the movie consists of Alice and Claire finding other survivors in LA, then killing zombies as everyone tries to survive and reach a ship offshore.
Alice and Claire are warrior women: they are strong and heroic and put up a good fight, never really getting hurt much in the process. This is the Amazon version of what a strong woman can be. Claire pretty much sticks to guns, but Alice uses guns, swords, and shotguns loaded with coins (perfect for killing zombies once and for all). There’s one really good fight scene in the second half of the film where the women are attacked by a giant zombie (at least seven feet tall, from what I could see), and when Alice is knocked out, Claire takes over and holds off the zombie in an impressive set of manoeuvres, before Alice comes to and they finish him off together. Yay, Sisterhood!
I didn’t see much of Claire’s personality, since this is Alice’s story, but I think Claire is angrier (and ruder) while Alice has a strong sad streak, facing the future with stoicism. There’s something about Jovovich that is direct and honest that I’ve always liked. She comes across as someone who doesn’t play games. (Larter, not so much.) The movie has friendship, but no romance that I could see (no time for it). Alice is mostly stoic but is visibly upset when her group is cut off from the leader of the survivors.
Alice and Claire find a handful of survivors holed up in a prison in LA. One of these is a plucky young woman, the other six are men. (I would have liked to see at least one other woman.) One man is black, one is East Asian, and another may be Latino, but pretty much everyone else (outside of the Umbrella Corp soldiers) is white. There are women among the survivors on the ship, including K-Mart from the previous film, there’s an ice blond woman who leads an Umbrella Corp army at the end, and I think some of the zombies were female (I didn’t look closely because I don’t like gore), but I don’t remember any of the Umbrella Corp soldiers (except for the woman at the end) being female. I’m not sure how the Umbrella Corp expects to make money in the future if almost all the people in their protected compounds are male. Not too many future generations to sell products to, there! All the women are white, young, and attractive and all but Alice have long straight hair. I’m not sure what it is about model hair: does it lead to greater odds of survival, or is it just an easier cut to care for in the post-apocalyptic world?
The film passes the Bechdel/Wallace easily, with plenty of talk between Alice and Claire, plus some between Alice and the other young woman, very little of it about men.
I found myself thinking about the whole Gothic/horror genre and how it’s a genre that really suits strong women, and always has. In this case it also happens to be an action franchise, something which really suits Jovovich.
I’m also wondering if this franchise was ever a Hollywood franchise, and whether that has anything to do with content. The latest film was listed as a Canada-Germany coproduction in the credits, but IMDb lists it as UK, Germany and USA. The USA isn’t listed for the first two installments, though. Not that it matters, but I’m curious.