Resident Evil: The Final Chapter

Resident Evil: The Final Chapter ★★★★★

“The Trinity of bitches” is my favorite line in the series—and a general indication that this film is made for me. I’m a sucker for these kinds of movies: spectacle films built around a carefully crafted mythos of some sort that function like a biblical opera. War for the Planet of the Apes (2017), derided by many, was one of my favorite films of the 2010s. Resident Evil: The Final Chapter is a very similar film, though PWSA is a more interesting filmmaker than Matt Reaves, and it’s even more successful in its use of religion.

As many have noted, the line “the Trinity of bitches” directly recalls the Christian triune God: Father, Son, and Spirit. Some reviewers, like Neil Bahadur (one of the best on this site), have successfully illustrated how this thematic material isn’t narratively idle, as could be the case for other biblical alluding blockbusters. If one looks with enough care, Judas can be found (see Neil’s review), Mary is waiting at the tomb as in the Gospel of John (Claire being the first to see the “risen” Alice), and the rest of the apostles are martyred (the resistance group, with whom the Judas character is but one). That the group that sets out for the Hive can be read as apostles is only reinforced through the betrayal of one—a betrayal, by the way, that she is given foreknowledge of by the “Holy Spirit” figure (the Red Queen). Thus, the Christian story isn’t just decorative material or simply useful as an emotional shortcut; it’s essential.

One of the most famous Patristic maxims reads, “What is not assumed cannot be redeemed.” This was one solution provided by the early church fathers to answer one of the most perplexing problems in the history of religion: how can God save humans if God isn’t human? God, it follows, must have assumed humanity. But then another problem persists: how can a human save humanity? They can’t. Only God can. It’s in this spirit that Anselm of Canterbury, in the early middle ages, referred to Jesus as the “God-man.” The distinction and unity of both natures are imperative to salvation.

It’s here, I think, where PWSA’s religious material is most radical.

Alice—an imitation of humanity—is almost the reverse of Christ. Most obviously, she (and the entire Trinity) is depicted in full femininity. And (as Neil points out), most of the remaining characters we are aware of, are in fact women. Society, it appears, will reflect this new “God-woman.” For starters, it confronts the Patristic maxim quoted above headfirst. Is femininity assumed in the traditional Christ-model? This recalls the great feminist theologian Mary Daly’s famous line “If God is male, then the male is God.” With Alice’s super-abilities, as well as being part of the Trinity, she becomes “God.” And she recreates the world. In the final shots, she—as in the beginning of the film, is in a battle with a sort of monster-dragon-bat; in the Hebrew and Christian Bible, as well as in the Ancient Near East context, it’s assumed that during creation God engaged in a primordial battle of sorts. In some of the greatest uses of these passages in the Bible, humans participate in recreation, such as when Tobias slays the fish in the Book of Tobit. In RE6, these monsters feel foreign and out of place. They don’t belong in the narrative of the movie and they almost feel above it. It’s also noteworthy that in both appearances she is completely alone. To me, especially within this already biblically steeped story, it seems Alice is recreating the world—as a woman, and thus, “in her image.” The world is feminine now. I think this is indistinguishable from the metacommentary on the blockbuster action genre, since the first Resident Evil movie essentially ignited the trend of female action heroes. PWSA and Milla Jovovich have recreated the action genre, using a new object for their image: the woman.

There’s something else differentiating Alice and the typical Christ figure or Christ himself. As stated in Nicene Christianity, Christ’s salvific abilities are inseparable from his divinity, which stems from his relationship with God the Father and the Holy Spirit. His power, one could say, comes from above. Yet, Alice isn’t made in the image of God but of humanity. Thus, to an extent, she replicates the traditional story of the Incarnation. But not fully. Her salvific power, speaking ontologically, comes from below. It would be as if CS Lewis’s “Aslan” weren’t a lion but a rat. In this, PWSA articulates a kenotic theology: God is most godly when he empties himself (in this case, herself) of divinity.

Even though this is just one film (and although much of the use of religion was to comment on the evolution of action filmmaking), with it, I think PWSA has earned a spot as one of the greatest living religious filmmakers.

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