In director Paul Anderson’s short career, he’s adapted a video game to the big screen (Mortal Kombat), made a futuristic actioner (Soldier), and a stranded a crew in a bloody chamber of horrors (Event Horizon). Here he does all three at once. The scant plot has to do with a subterranean laboratory, the “Hive,” that’s owned and run by a dubious corporation parent (no, not Enron). A botched espionage attempt unleashes a deadly virus, whereupon a SWAT team descends upon the Hive to secure the facility and prevent further contamination. What the commandos must endure during their journey into the Hive — their game quest, if you will — is a homicidal supercomputer (hello HAL!), a teaming throng of zombies, and a beastly incarnation called the “Licker.”
Much of Resident Evil unfolds like a video game rendered in jump-cut, music-video style. There’s little character development, and no need for it; the perpetual action asks you to watch, not think. The film’s modest and campy success hangs on the magnificent screen presence of Milla Jovovich, an angelic warrior clad in a red dinner dress and black combat boots, with piercing blue eyes that are far more mesmerizing than any hyper-sense wizardry Anderson might concoct.
Issue Date: March 15 – 21, 2002