Resident Evil: Afterlife is the perfect example of a generic B-movie with girls, guns, and ghouls. But the flick owes its style and plot to so many other franchises that it achieves a kind of sublime, meta-cheese status.
If you're after a plot that goes beyond a gun-toting team climbing from level to level, zooming on top of fiery plumes to reach the big boss, then you probably won't want to see Resident Evil: Afterlife. But if you want to escape your life for an hour and a half with hot ninjas who fight evil, human-destroying corporations - in pretty awesome 3D - then consider this movie your ticket to post-apocalyptic paradise.
So what happens in Resident Evil: Afterlife? A bunch of Alice clones finally take down Umbrella Corp's Japanese underground headquarters, where evil scientists whipped up a mega-virus that turned a bunch of people into zombies but left a few with superninja powers. One of these superninjas is the next-generation version Alice, only he sucks because he's a white dude with sunglasses and no sexy boots. He survives the Alice army attack only by doing his very best to look and sound exactly like Agent Smith from The Matrix franchise. Director Paul W.S. Anderson even films him using bullet time effects, which makes you feel briefly like you're watching a cheap, straight-to-DVD Matrix ripoff flick.
But there is something awesome about the idea of a videogame franchise ripoff hero being stalked by a science fiction franchise ripoff of a videogame ripoff villain. Will the most meta character win?
Before we find out, Alice zooms up to Alaska to find the legendary safe haven "Arcadia" where her buddies from the last movie went to find sanctuary. Unfortunately all she finds is an abandoned icy field and Claire (Ali Larter), brainwashed by a drug bug (yeah, you'll just have to see it). Now the action gets good: Alice and Claire randomly hightail it down to Los Angeles, where they find a few survivors, including an annoying movie producer and a badass sports star. Plus, it turns out a giant tanker called Arcadia is moored off the coast of LA. Could it be that their salvation lies in the tanker? How can they get the survivors from their city stronghold, through the zombie hordes, and out to sea?
Basically the answer involves a lot of hot boots, wet t-shirts, and guns. Along the way, we meet zombies who look like the four-jawed vampires Guillermo Del Toro created for Blade II. And there's more ripoff Agent Smith guy trying in vain to duplicate Hugo Weaving's menacing drone voice. Plus weird human experiments and scarily sterile rooms full of incomprehensible science things. The main thing is, there are a lot of cool sets where bad guys fight good guys and many weapons are flung into your face 3D-style.
It's a snazzy but soulless exercise. Beautiful people with shiny weapons swirl in slo-mo through glistening rooms full of water gushing from broken pipes. But there's no character development, no big reveal. Still, it's a fun ride. And if you get bored with asskickery, you can always count the references to other franchises to keep yourself entertained.