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Resident Evil Apocalypse – Review


Director: Alexander Witt

Year Released: 2004

You’re all going to die

‘The virus escaped and everybody died. Trouble was…they didn’t stay dead.’ – Resident Evil: Apocalypse carries on where the previous film left off. There was a viral outbreak in a high-tech research facility known as The Hive, located deep beneath the streets of Raccoon City. The facility was owned and operated by the Umbrella Corporation, a powerful pharmaceutical company, who were responsible for the development of the T-Virus – capable of inducing death and reanimation in its host. After the virus leaked, The Hive’s occupants were reduced to flesh eating zombies and a squad team were then sent in to investigate. As the sole survivors of The Hive incident, Alice (an Umbrella employee – head of security, played by Milla Jovovich) and Matt (an environmentalist, determined to expose Umbrella’s activities to the world, played by Eric Mabius) had managed to escape from the zombie-infested facility only to be apprehended by Umbrella scientists. Matt, who had been recently injured by a Licker (a mutant test subject), is taken from Alice and sent to be part of the ‘Nemesis Program’. Alice is then detained and used for experimentation at the Raccoon City facility while the scientists plan to reopen The Hive to find out what really happened…

In the early hours of a typical, normal day in Raccoon City, the residents go about their daily routines, blissfully unaware of the events taking place underground as a team of Umbrella scientists reopen The Hive, effectively sealing their doom. When The Hive is opened, the team is swiftly eradicated by the residing infectees and the virus slowly but surely penetrates the peaceful town above. Without delay, Umbrella drivers are sent to collect head researchers and other key figures in order to take them to safety before the city is quarantined. Dr. Charles Ashford (Jared Harris) however, refuses to leave without his daughter, Angie (Sophie Vavasseur) who had already left for school. The doctor is escorted out and a car is sent for his daughter. Contact with the car carrying Angie is suddenly lost when it is involved in a major car crash on route. In a matter of hours, the city is in chaos with a wave of unexplained killings as the infection spreads. Backup is needed at the police station and S.T.A.R.S. member Jill Valentine (a major protagonist from the game series, played by Sienna Guillory) is called in.

Meanwhile, Alice regains consciousness in an observation room of Raccoon City hospital and wanders out into the street to find the city in ruins. She grabs a shotgun from a wrecked police car and searches for survivors. With all the exits sealed, citizens rush to the security checkpoint located at the only bridge out of town and are slowly scanned and evacuated by Umbrella officials as armed guards patrol the border. Next, we see a young woman being chased to the roof of a building by a crowd of the undead. She attempts to fend off the approaching zombies and is bitten in the process. Her ordeal is spotted by Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr), an Umbrella soldier, in a helicopter above (Olivera had helped Jill escape from Raccoon City in the Resident Evil 3 videogame). With help from fellow soldier Nicholai (Zack Ward), Olivera goes against his orders, dives from the helicopter and takes out the zombies on the rooftop. However, when Olivera offers to help the young woman, she reveals that she has been bitten, sees no other option and falls to her death.

Jill arrives at the security checkpoint and meets her partner Peyton (Razaaq Adoti) amid the anxious residents waiting to exit the city. Suddenly a man collapses to the floor to the horror of his young daughter. When Peyton tries to help, the man reanimates and bites Peyton’s leg before being shot by the armed guards. Major Cain (Thomas Kretschmann), an Umbrella supervisor, then orders for the gates to be sealed, leaving hundreds of outraged people, including Jill and Peyton, trapped inside. As the crowd rush to the closing gates, Cain authorises the use of live ammunition, leaving the residents with no choice but to retreat back to the perilous city where the battle between the living and the undead rages on. Olivera and his team, as well as various police officers and military personnel, attempt to take out as many zombies as possible that stalk the streets of Raccoon City in search of human flesh. Back at the outskirts of the city, Dr. Ashford refuses to leave the city and hacks into the Umbrella computer system to search for his missing daughter using the personnel locator. When he discovers that she is in the school he looks for survivors in the city to help him retrieve Angie. He soon comes across Alice as she wanders the derelict streets. As she searches for survivors, she suddenly collapses to the floor in pain and has flash backs to her time in the hospital. It is revealed that she was exposed to the T-Virus which had bonded with her blood on a cellular level and, as a result, she has gained enhanced abilities.

Elsewhere, Jill, Peyton and a weather girl name Terri (Sandrine Holt) seek shelter in a nearby church but after they lock themselves in, they soon realise that it is far from safe. Before long, the group is cornered by several Lickers. Alice arrives just in time and rescues the group and together they leave the church. The Nemesis Program is then activated – Nemesis (Matthew G. Taylor), was once Matt – the environmentalist that had escaped from The Hive with Alice, is now a hideous unstoppable killing machine, heavily armed and programmed with one objective – to eliminate the remaining S.T.A.R.S. members in Raccoon City. Things take a turn for the worse, when Olivera and his team are overwhelmed by undead masses and are forced to fall back. With Nicholai’s assistance, Olivera helps a severely bitten soldier to his feet and the three men come across several empty weapon cases (the weapons had been collected by Nemesis) recently left by an Umbrella helicopter. The injured soldier had zombified in the meantime and bites Olivera before being shot.

We are then introduced to another of the film’s main protagonists, L.J. (Mike Epps) who arrives at a diner occupied by S.T.A.R.S. members. However, L.J. is quickly followed by Nemesis who swiftly eradicates the S.T.A.R.S. squad while L.J., being a normal civilian, is not recognised as a threat so his life is spared and Nemesis moves on. Alice, Jill, Peyton and Terri then receive a phone call from Dr. Ashford who offers to help them escape, providing they first rescue his daughter who is hiding in the school. He also informs them that at sunrise, the entire city will be completely sanitized in order to contain the infection – all evidence of the outbreak would also be destroyed. With time running out and Peyton’s condition deteriorating, the group head over to the school. On the way, they are ambushed by Nemesis who kills Peyton and then targets Alice, separating her for the rest of the group. She manages to evade Nemesis’ attacks while Jill and Terri are attacked by the reanimated Peyton, leaving Jill with no choice but to shoot her friend. Jill and Terri hotwire a car and head to the school, picking up L.J. on the way. Carlos and Nicholai receive a similar call from the doctor and also make their way to the school in search of Angie.

When Jill, L.J. and Terri arrive at the seemingly empty school, they split up and search each floor. L.J. receives a surprise zombie attack but is saved by Carlos, Terri however is not so lucky. As she walks down the dark corridors she records her journey on her video camera, hoping to use the tape as evidence when they make their escape. When she enters a classroom, she is met by a class of zombified children who feast on the unfortunate weather girl while her untimely demise is caught on tape. Jill finds Angie but they are soon attacked by infected canines. Nicholai comes to the ladies’ aid but is then caught off guard by a zombie dog, as he struggles with the creature he insists that he has it under control and urges Jill to go and help the girl. As Nicholai continues to fend off the dog, another arrives at the scene, sealing Nicholai’s fate. Jill and Angie are then rescued by Alice who reveals that Angie is infected on a massive level – much like Alice herself. Angie had been a very sick child and when her desperate father was told that her condition would only get worse, he used the T-Virus to make her stronger. He also provided his daughter with the antivirus to keep the virus in check (this antivirus is later used on Olivera who had been bitten previously). When Olivera and L.J. rejoin the group, they arrive at a phone booth and receive further instructions from Dr. Ashford. When he learns that they have found his daughter he tells them of the location of an evacuation site where a lightly guarded helicopter will be waiting. His plan is overheard by Major Cain who then prepares a trap for Alice and the other survivors. On the way to the helicopter, Jill hands a video camera to Alice so that she can record her story and expose Umbrella for its evil deeds.

When the group arrive at the evacuation site, they successfully take out a number of Umbrella guards but are soon seized by Cain and his men. Cain then orders Alice to fight Nemesis in order to reveal which is the superior subject, when she refuses; he cold-heartedly shoots and kills Dr. Ashford and threatens to do the same to the rest of the group. Consequently, Alice has no choice but to join her former ally in combat. After an impressive fight scene, Alice overpowers Nemesis but refuses to kill him since she remembers him for what he was. At this, Cain orders Nemesis to eliminate Alice but the creature surprisingly goes against these orders and helps Alice and the remaining survivors to escape. Nemesis then dies protecting Alice. Jill, Olivera, Angie, L.J. and Alice then board the helicopter and take off while Major Cain is left to the ravenous mob of the living dead gathering below – the reanimated Dr. Ashford gets his vengeance as he initiates the gruesome death of Major Cain . The helicopter sets off and shortly after, a missile is launched at Raccoon City, resulting in its total annihilation. The impact of the explosion is felt strongly in the aircraft which shakes violently and eventually crashes – Alice receives near-fatal wounds when protecting Angie from flying debris.

The wrecked helicopter is later found by an Umbrella salvage team in the Arklay Mountains located in the outskirts of Raccoon City. The team is led by Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) who discovers Alice’s body – the other survivors are nowhere to be found. In the meantime, Terri’s tape documenting the nightmarish events of Raccoon City is branded a hoax. Weeks later, Alice regains consciousness and finds herself recuperating in a giant water tank at the Umbrella medical research facility. When she is released from the tank, she appears to have suffered from severe memory loss. Dr Isaacs asks Alice a series of questions and, to his surprise, her memory rapidly returns and her powers have clearly enhanced. Alice fights her way out of the facility and is picked up in a car by Jill, Olivera, L.J. and Angie. The car is stopped at the gates but Dr. Isaacs orders his men to let them go and announces that ‘Project Alice’ has been activated. Alice fails to respond when asked what had been done to her; she simply stares vacantly out of the window as the survivors head towards an uncertain future…

Although not a huge fan of the film series, I did enjoy this Resident Evil sequel – it does have its moments. It was packed with pretty impressive action scenes and contained a lot of original game characters – there are a lot of references throughout which hardcore Resident Evil gamers will recognise. I also liked Iain Glen’s character (Dr. Isaacs) – that actor is particularly good at playing villains in my opinion. In addition, Nemesis did look great but he certainly wasn’t as frightening or disturbingly relentless as his video game counterpart – for example, I think the idea that he would have a sudden change of heart and become a ‘good guy’ was very out of character. Also, I do feel that this film (and others in the series) tends to shy away from the guts and gore that, to me, are a big part of Resident Evil. I think the films focus too much on Milla Jovovich’s character whilst many of the other characters (game characters in particular) remain underdeveloped.

All in all, I think that this film is well worth a watch for Resident Evil fans but again, I did expect more from Apocalypse, being based on such an outstanding collection of survival-horror games.

©2004 Davis Films/Impact (Canada) Inc./Constantin film (UK) Limited. All Rights Reserved.