Russell Mulcahy wheels Resident Evil: Extinction, the third entry in the Resident Evil film series that began in 2002. The movies are based on the video game series of the same name, which concerns a future of bioengineering and a zombie apocalypse. The 2007 installment has a screenplay by Paul W. S. Anderson, who directed the first picture in the series.
Mulcahy’s vision is like the rest, although his account has the distinction of taking place in the desert. That opens David Johnson’s cinematography up for broad shots and even some overheads, with the scale of things a principal theme as hordes of zombies are shown gathered around a fenced-in facility.
That fenced-in facility is part of the Umbrella Corporation, which is concealing its involvement in the spread of the T-virus. Said virus has been designed to trigger mutations to generate a militaristic advantage. Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) is trying to perfect the antidote and has been using clones of Alice (Milla Jovovich) because her blood is the cure or something.
The real Alice is wandering the desert when she comes across a group of survivors led by Claire Redfield (Ali Larter). Alice knows some of them from Racoon City and suggests that there may be a greater chance for subsistence in Alaska. A plan is made, but Alice has unfinished business with Dr. Isaacs first.
The dystopic future suggested by Resident Evil: Extinction is nothing new. Alice’s voiceover informs the audience that the rivers have dried up and the ground is dry and everything is just really, really dry. Even the people are dry, as evidenced by the loitering hordes of zombies that crackle and crumble when they move.
The living aren’t much better, as they’re drained of almost all energy by whatever. Larter’s character is all-business and that’s a good thing because she’s in charge of an ever-dwindling cluster. She’s searching for cigarettes along the way, which is about as close as she gets to having a personality.
Ashanti shows up as Nurse Betty (not kidding) and she does have A Reason to Love in Mike Epps’ L.J., but she’s not around for long after the birds start crowing. Oded Fehr is Carlos and he has a vague connection with Alice. He’s also granted one of the best scenes in the movie when he finds a smoke in a big rig.
Jovovich handles herself well as Alice and it’s fun to watch her bound around. She’s up to the physical task and looks the part, especially when she flies through the air with some impressive kicks. The kinetic powers are a tougher sell because they’re used so spasmodically, but it’s clear that Alice is something special.
It’s hard to say a lot about Resident Evil: Extinction because there’s not much to it. It lacks the lavish mounting of the Underworld pictures and doesn’t finagle much of an atmosphere with its skittish fast-cuts, plus the plot is emaciated despite its expounded importance.
There are some neat bits, like when Alice must fish herself out of a foul situation involving some bandits and ill dogs. And the final showdown with a transmuted Isaacs is kind of cool, specially because it calls back to the beginning. But really, nothing matters much and the lack of emotional resonance ultimately pulls Resident Evil: Extinction into the sand. Appropriately, it’s really, really dry.