It’s popular to look down on Resident Evil because it’s a video game adaptation. I was prepared to write a negative review, even though I had seen it twice before and couldn’t remember anything specific that I found objectionable.
After 100 minutes of gunfire, zombie dogs, and general mayhem, though, I don’t have a lot to say. If you took an action movie, cast women and people of color as if that were just the normal way to do things, and then went on about your business, you would end up with something very much like this movie.
The two main characters are Milla Jovovich (white) and Michelle Rodriguez (Hispanic). They are the only two cast members on the posters, and their names are given prominence. For the latter half of the movie, they are almost 50% of the cast since everyone else has been chewed on or sliced up. They are both quite competent, and no one treats them badly or tries to protect them just because they’re women. They don’t spend time talking about their boyfriends or their makeup. They just thrash on some zombies. Beyond these two, the leader of the military unit is an African-American man (played by a British actor, speaking in an American accent) and the medic is a white woman, so the cast feels pretty well-rounded.
The only thing I can find to complain about is Milla’s Jovovich’s implausible near-nudity, which I guess must be written into all of her contracts: “Ms. Jovovich will also appear in one scene either completely or totally nude, when no other human being would actually be completely or totally nude in that situation, even in the movies.” In Fifth Element it was that ridiculous bit about “thermal bandages.” In Resident Evil, she’s in a hospital, but instead of a gown she wears two pieces of paper tied together with string. I don’t think I’ll take off a whole star for that, since it’s all of three minutes of screen time. I’ll just sigh and shake my head a little.
It’s not the revolution, but it’s refreshingly free of racist and sexist garbage. If you’re a fan of zombies and you like (or don’t mind) some light gore, then you can probably enjoy this without the risk of ranting for an hour afterwards.
I give it three stars. It probably deserves four by Heroine Content criteria, but for some reason I just didn’t bond with it the way I did with the other movies I’ve given four stars. So it gets three.
Wow, that was anti-climactic. Unlike the thing where Milla Jovovich launches off the wall and breaks the zombie dog’s neck with a kick, which was totally awesome.
This post was originally published on Heroine Content, a feminist and anti-racist movie blog that ran from July 2006 to May 2012.