There’s no vaccine for this.
The Resident Evil live-action franchise may have been the bigger hit, but the CG-animated Resident Evil movies out of Japan are actually closer in spirit to the games than the films are. That doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re better. Sometimes, they’re like watching a Resident Evil game that you can’t play.
Resident Evil: Vendetta definitely falls into that category, and it’s got a lot of problems. The animation itself isn’t too big of an issue. It’s not up to industry standards, but it’s barely noticeable in the first few minutes when a special unit led by Chris Redfield suddenly finds itself under attack by a new breed of vicious zombies. It’s when the film calls upon the characters to emote and demonstrate their feelings that the animation falters. The lifeless performance of the CGI just can’t handle those human touches. And frankly, some of the games have had better animation.
The plot of the movie reunites Chris with two of the other heroes from the series: Leon Kennedy, and Rebecca Chambers, who is suddenly re-imagined as a brilliant scientist who holds the key to defeating the new virus strain. Their adversary is a vengeful man named Glenn Arias, who has apparently created a deadlier and more intelligent strain of zombies than ever before. Arias actually does have a legitimate reason for his vendetta against the heroes, but his motivations take a sharp turn late in the film which almost completely disrupts what little story it has.
Out of nowhere, Arias develops an obsession with Rebecca and he even has her kidnapped and dressed up in a wedding dress to make her his bride. That’s right. Resident Evil: Vendetta is basically cribbing the plot of every Super Mario game. The film really doesn’t do Rebecca any favors by turning her into a damsel in distress. It’s almost as if the creative team behind this movie forgot that the Resident Evil games have plenty of kickass heroines to choose from, and they simply added Rebecca to the mix so that Chris and Leon would have someone familiar to save.
Leon’s characterization is hilariously one-note as the tortured survivor of so many zombie incidents, and Chris plays that same note himself…except the film tries a little bit harder with him. The biggest issue is that the movie treats everyone who isn’t Chris, Leon, and Rebecca as completely disposable characters. It’s impossible to care about any of these people if they become zombie chow less than five minutes after they first appear on screen.
In the rare moments that this film shines, it gives fans the over-the-top action sequences that made the recent games so popular. There are even some pretty cool moments that look like they would have been a lot of fun if the viewers actually controlled Leon and Chris’ actions. Within a game, it’s a lot easier to forgive their paper-thin personalities when we can fill those gaps by ourselves. It’s a lot less exciting when we don’t even get the thrill of a QTE.