Updated: Aug 24, 2022
Well, well, well, if it isn’t my good old friend, the Resident Evil franchise. While yes, I’ve been very harsh on the live action Resident Evil movies by Paul W.S. Anderson, it’s for a good reason. The Resident Evil games have both memorable characters and an intense storyline about a world with biological organic weapons caused by a viral outbreak. And despite some flops in the franchise (looking at you Resident Evil 6), they are still fun games to play. However, the Resident Evil movies, on the other hand, do not share that sentiment. And by far the most insulting of them all is today’s entry: Resident Evil: Vendetta!
B.S.A.A. operative Chris Redfield (voiced by Kevin Dorman) and a squad of his men track the location of a former CIA operative and illegal arms dealer named Glenn Arias (voiced by John DeMita) to an abandoned mansion. Arias has a vendetta (ay I said it!) with the U.S. government after they bombed his wedding and killed his wife. After a brief skirmish, Arias escapes and Chris recruits former S.T.A.R.S. member turned researcher, Rebecca Chambers (voiced by Erin Cahill), to help him find a cure for the new virus Arias created. Rebecca finds that the new virus has similarities to the Las Plagas parasite, and the two go find Leon Kennedy (voiced by Matthew Mercer) to aid them. Leon is hesitant at first, but soon agrees after Arias captures Rebecca.
To say this film’s plot is cluttered is an understatement. Resident Evil: Vendetta has the most convoluted plot in any of the other films! The film opens up with Leon monologuing about how he always thought about what kind of man he would grow up to become while mourning the death of his men. Suddenly, the film cuts to Chris on a B.S.A.A. mission. What kind of a transition is that? The two scenes don’t correlate at all! It feels like the director just quickly spliced together two separate scenes to establish character. On a side note, I really hate the B.S.A.A. in this movie. They really feel like incompetent dumbasses who try to solve every problem by blowing things up or shooting them.
I waited until now to say that the film along with its predecessors, Resident Evil: Degeneration and Damnation, are canon to Capcom’s Resident Evil universe. What this film does that really pisses me off is the inconsistencies in its character portrayal. Leon goes from wanting to save as many people as possible in both the games and previous two CG films to being really nonchalant about killing civilians. He casually kills at least four people on a crowded highway while trying to kill zombie dogs. Meanwhile, Chris is a really horrible friend to Leon. When he sees Leon drinking his sorrows away, rather than try to understand how he feels, he immediately berates Leon. This is particularly infuriating since Chris went through this exact same phase in his life shortly before the events of Resident Evil 6, so you’d think that he would be more sympathetic. But no, he’s just gonna be an asshole.
Speaking of the characters, I think Glenn Arias has a really stupid motivation for being a villain. While his wife was killed by a bomb from the U.S. government, why does he want to turn all of New York City into BOWs? Also, get this: the reason why Arias captured Rebecca was because she looks like his wife and he wishes to rewrite history by finishing the wedding. Besides that, his general look is a rip-off of Albert Wesker, minus the badass shades and trench coat. Even his mannerisms seem similar to Wesker, which makes him all the less memorable as a villain.
Despite the plethora of issues I have with this movie, there were some moments I liked. The CGI is arguably the best out of all three CG Resident Evil films, with the character models looking much more detailed and life-like. Additionally, the cinematography is actually pretty breathtaking, especially the long establishing shots of different locations. And finally, I liked most of the action scenes. Since this is largely an action film, it better have good action, and it definitely delivers in that department. Seeing Leon and Chris kill zombies together is so satisfying to watch, that I almost forgot how bad the film is. Almost. However, the final fight between Chris and Wes—I mean—Arias gets really ridiculous with the excessive and over-the-top gun-fu.
Besides the action, I really enjoyed Matthew Mercer’s performance as Leon Kennedy. Mercer voiced Leon in Resident Evil 6 and the CG film Resident Evil: Damnation. He brings a weathered and tortured edge to the character, which makes sense considering all the trauma he’s been through in his line of work. Matthew Mercer is hands down my favorite voice actor to play Leon, and it’s a shame that he’s always in the subpar Resident Evil media.
Overall, this is by far the worst Resident Evil movie I’ve seen. While the film’s visual quality exceeds that of most of the Anderson films, the fact that this movie is canon to the Resident Evil game universe makes it all the more infuriating and insulting to me. These characters that fans love and adore are treated so poorly that they almost become as dry and one-dimensional as their live action counterparts! While the cinematography and action are spectacular, there’s only so much they can do to distract audiences before they quickly figure out how boring the film is. After so many attempts to make a good Resident Evil film, this begs the question: can there be a good Resident Evil film?