resident evil (2002)

director: paul anderson

milla jovovich, michelle rodriguez, eric mabius

There’s an elegant simplicity to a film like Resident Evil – a clarity of purpose that shouldn’t be too surprising from a film based on a video game. It’s basically the motive force that compels you to endure what will ultimately be a gory and joyless journey, but which entirely evaporates with the final shot of the film.

Set in a dystopic near-future of private paramilitary armies and morally bankrupt corporations, Resident Evil manages, if nothing else, to hint that the nightmare world of soulless multinationals run amok that obsesses anti-globalization protesters might have less to do with the writings of Noam Chomsky, and more to do with excessive videogame play.

Milla Jovovich plays Alice, whose job it was to guard the underground entrance to the Hive, an underground R&D facility owned by the sinister Umbrella corporation. When the Red Queen, the computer that runs the Hive, suddenly seals the complex shut and kills everyone inside, Alice is taken along by the company’s private security force to find out what happened. 

"What happened" is the usual mess of superviruses and noisy conspiracy, dressed up with a series of monstrous obstacles that progresses from skinless killer dobermans to flesh-eating zombies to "the Licker", a killing machine bio-engineered by the corporation for the sole purpose of providing Alice and a handful of survivors with a final obstacle to escape. 

Films like Resident Evil are the cinematic equivalent of the "Nü Metal" sludge on the film’s soundtrack; bands like Slipknot, Fear Factory and Marilyn Manson that strain mightily for an aura of evil and threat, to cover a core of bubblegum pap, the cloying, toffee-like texture of pure product.