Gabrielle’s review published on Letterboxd:
viewed in IMAX 3D
My name... is Alice.
From the beginning of the franchise, over ten years ago, it was always perfectly clear that even if following a straight narrative line, each Resident Evil was its own thing. Even when Paul W.S. Anderson returned to the director's chair at the fourth chapter, bringing back the gaming stylization of the original, he still maintained a crisp aesthetic, structural and ultimately artistic distinction between Afterlife and Retribution. Being that one of the many aspects that differs RE from your usual blockbuster franchise - and possibly one of the reasons for its bad rep -, comes The Final Chapter as the most original and accomplished of the series.
This time, we are learning the truth behind Alice's story, and escaping the realm of artificiality and reaching towards the one of reality, W.S. Anderson's aesthetics quits being steady, symmetrical, clean and slow at a self-contemplative level, to become handheld, dirty and accelerated at a frenetic level. Implaccable, Anderson places his spectator inside his controlled chaos in action sequences featuring infinities of short - but calculated - shots in a minimum cut window that, along with the atmospheric 3D, Paul Haslinger's superb synth score and the obliterating sound transform each sequence in a magnificent hipnotic frenezi, making the picture the rebel daughter of Mad Max: Fury Road with Crank. To the unaccustomed eye, it will be hard to follow at first and it may seen like bad confusing directing/editing, but once the sight adjusts, it becomes crystal clear that there's nothing confusing about it at all; it seems as if we see too little, and yet, we know that we've sharply seen each shot, for Anderson is not showing the imagery to our eyes, he's imprinting it in our minds.
The picture also has the most striking set pieces - or levels, if you prefer so - of the franchise, each one of them exploring the language to its manner; the intensity of the score, the lack of it, the sound mixing, the unbelievable velocity of the montage, the diegetic lighting, et cetera... Each aspect functions in different forms to cause different impacts on the audience. Excitement, tension, scares, thrill, emotion, the full pack. The aesthetic experience is completed with the cherry at the top of the cake that are the spectacular visual effects - something genuinely new to the RE movies -, which fit like a glove at this chapter; after an entire series focusing on architected false realities, it's convenient that the film that's finally bringing us back to reality, brings with it a festival of hyperrealistic effects.
This episode also succeeds as Paul W.S. Anderson's greatest triumph as a screenwriter; there's a significant improvement on dialogues, but of course that's not the point. As a true appropriator of videogame structure (before those became cinematographic), Anderson advances his plot with action instead of chit chat. Alice, coming to the end of her journey, becomes an ultimate feminist monument: she's put right at the center of a speech on instrumentality, having all these years been hunted and treated as a property of corporate men, at last it comes the time for her to find out the truth about herself, and between the corporation that wants to dictate her role and her own image whispering into her soul, Alice achieves a self-discovery that consolidates her as an icon of feminine power. Her arc makes The Final Chapter essentially a coming-of-age piece, as Anderson is speaking about Alice's maturing, tracing a parallel between her story and the ones of so many women who've lost their childhood by entering the entertainment industry too young - including his wife, Alice herself, Milla Jovovich - and the ones who are explored by capitalist corporations commanded by powerful men. Paul projects his wife's image on their daughter, Ever Anderson, and so transforms Alice into a symbol of empowerment to the little girls who are yet to mature, and the grown women who survive to this world.
I've seen only three films in IMAX 3D - including Rogue One - and so far, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter was the most devasting of them, in the best way possible. Even more than an entrancing imersive aesthetic experience and an anti-corporate authoral achievement inside the Hollywoodian industry, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter closes Alice's story as a not an end, but a new beginning, for there's still much to grow from this - nothing more dignifying for a franchise that accompanied most of its fans' growth and maturing, including my own, since kids.