Resident Evil: Afterlife ★★★★

Of the three Resident Evil films Paul WS directed, this is probably the least interesting - save for a scumbag movie producer, it's virtually apolitical. Yet, there's still an astounding formal cohesion & furthermore a rueful melancholy which to my eyes seem unmatched before or since. In many ways it's the most similar film to the original - where that film was set almost entirely in one location, this one brings it up to two! This structural tightness however also allows WS to diverge/experiment formally - nothing in WS's films prior (or movies in general?) has looked quite like this - action sequences become a complete sensorial overload - total digital cinema! Two of my favourite action sequences ever: Redfield fighting the Axeman in the bathroom (has falling water ever looked quite like this - before or since?) and Alice's fight with Wesker, some of the most exciting cinema I've ever seen, WS at his best: where an action sequence (no matter how exciting) is freed from functional cuts & juxtapositions - slow-motion to linger on the pure spectacle of movement itself.

While the film is probably most important for the formal leap WS makes in his cinema (Musketeers, Retribution & Pompeii all seem to build off this syntax, linking ideas which exist outside of the cinema to the aesthetic choice) it's maybe crucial that I mention the films team vibe - maybe this movies key strength: this is the only film where I feel WS fully accomplishes a Hawksian/Carpenter group sensation, where characters with disparate backgrounds feel as though a complete family (no small accomplishment considering only two of these characters have any relationship prior to this film!) Maybe it's the least political of WS's Resident Evil films, but it's probably the most joyous - interrelationships captured not through exposition but essence.

Neil liked these reviews