dir-scr Paul WS Anderson|
with Milla Jovovich, Michelle Rodriguez, James Purefoy, Eric Mabius, Martin Crewes, Colin Salmon, Heike Makatsch, Pasquale Aleardi, Jaymes Butler, Michaela Dicker, Anna Bolt, Liz May Brice
release US 15.Mar.02; UK 12.Jul.02 • Pathe
See also: RESIDENT EVIL: APOCALYPSE (2004) | RESIDENT EVIL: EXTINCTION (2007)
I never saw Anderson's other video game adaptation (Mortal Kombat), but I did endure his attempted space thriller Event Horizon, and this is just more of the same: loud, grisly, action-packed and profoundly un-scary.
Set in the near future, it's about a massive underground office block that has been sealed off due to contamination from one of its labs. Lead by a guy called One (Salmon), a team heads in to assess the situation. We've got two amnesiac employees (Jovovich and Purefoy), a handful of feisty soldiers (Rodrigues, Crewes, Aleardi, etc) and a captured corporate spy (Mabius). Soon they realise that the leaked virus causes dead office workers to re-emerge as characters from Night of the Living Dead. And if that isn't enough, the evil computer system is trying to stop them as well.
The relentless action plays exactly like a video game, with levels the character must progress through--fighting increasingly brutal villains before moving onto the next environment. And they lose a "life" every time a team member gets infected, eaten, sliced to ribbons by laser beam, whatever. This progressive structure and a decent cast are all that makes the film watchable. Anderson simply hasn't a clue about creating cinematic suspense; he obviously thinks that screeching chords of music are terrifying. But he never shows us the threat, so we have nothing to be remotely afraid of. You find yourself bracing for the next deafening shriek, which comes right on schedule. Yawn!
There's an intriguing premise here, but the production design is boring and derivative, the plot is incomprehensible and pointless, and the flesh-eating zombies are laughably silly. It just goes on and on, getting louder and louder, yet never working on any level at all (unless the sight of Jovovich wearing only a couple of tea towels works for you!). Please, Mr Anderson, try something else for a change.
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