Based on the popular video game of the same name, the story incorporates man’s fear of science and technology, like the characters of Frankenstein and HAL 2000, as a combat team must deal with a secret computer-controlled research facility, known as the Hive, as well as zombies produced by a genetically adaptive virus created in its lab. A toxic virus is released into the underground Hive’s air system, infecting thousands of workers. The artificial intelligence, Red Queen, activates defense systems that seal the laboratory and kill everyone inside. Alice (Milla Jovovich) awakens with amnesia, but is soon jolted as a combat team invades her home. But the home is only the cover for a secret entrance to the Hive and Alice learns she’s a member of the team. Assigned to discover why the Red Queen went homicidal, the team must first get past her defenses. However, they soon learn that she acted to contain the virus, designed for military use, which brings dead tissue back to life. The zombies have only one thought, to feed on living flesh. And any blood contact, scratch or bite, transfers the deadly virus. Alice and Rain (Michelle Rodriquez) must lead the dwindling team out of the Hive, battling the thousands of workers turned zombies all the way, along with a few other experimental surprises from the lab. Although films have difficulty turning video game excitement into box office success, RESIDENT EVIL captures the tense, relentless action and continuing aspects of the computer game.
Having played older video games, such as the classic DOOM where the odds in battles get increasingly greater, it’s difficult to call such masochism entertainment. Although, there is a certain satisfaction in finally surviving to the next level. Graphic violence in many computer games is often adjustable. However, graphic violence on film has become a special effects bonus. Grotesque, decomposing bodies march on until shot in the head or have their neck broken. Bloody bites, burning bodies and decapitations, one by laser beam, add to the gruesome toll. Along with the non-stop threats of zombie workers, zombie guard dogs and a long-tongued genetic monster, characters spout obscenities and crude comments. Brief images of a past sexual encounter indicate returning memories. While the film may attract those familiar with the popular game, the continuing desensitization to violence and vulgar language earns our strongest vote against moving in with RESIDENT EVIL.