The Resident Evil series has been a messy one in game or film form. But there’s always at least one guarantee, the CGI films are leagues better than the live action ones & Resident Evil Vendetta continues to prove that.
Resident Evil has gone through a bit of resurgence this year, starting off with its latest game going back to survival horror basics in a first person style with a totally new plot and none of the original characters appearing. It’s a move lauded by many after how the games have slowly gone more action oriented since RE5.
So it seems like a balance has been struck up now, the games will continue to be more horror based and these CG movies will keep up the action, and Vendetta is good proof of that. The less we speak of those stupid live action films, the better.
Though I should probably preface this with the fact I haven’t really played much of the Resident Evil series. I’ve seen all the CG films and some of the crappy live action ones too and I’ve slightly played some of the games, having only owned The Darkside Chronicles (a compilation of RE2 and Code Veronica that’s been shortened down with some extra stuff sprinkled in) on Wii.
The CG Resident Evil films have followed a usual kind of pattern with long time series protagonist Leon Kennedy being in all 3 films with at least another character or two from the games to keep him company. Degeneration reunited him with Claire Redfield (the 2 having been the original protags of RE2) while Damnation had him dealing with Ada Wong’s mysteriousness again (as before in RE2), though his government agent contact Ingrid Hunnigan (from RE4) also appears in both films.
Vendetta decides to change things up a bit more adding in series protagonists Chris Redfield and Rebecca Chambers into the mix (both having debut in the very original RE game). This having been Rebecca’s first canonical appearance in the series in several years since the original game and its prequel RE0 (the rest having been The Mercenaries minigame or newer portrayals of RE1 or 0’s story).
But enough about that:
Glenn Arias is ‘merchant of death’ as Chris so likes to call him. Having taken assets from Tricell and Neo-Umbrella (continuity nods galore), he’s created a new virus with an added bonus of being able to control whoever gets infected to direct them into attacking or not attacking certain people. Such a feature would be quite the selling point for those wanting to buy Bio-Organic Weapons.
Chris, now working for the B.S.A.A (Bioterrorism Security Assessment Alliance) accompanies a group of soldiers to a mansion in Mexico where Arias seems to be operating, intent on capturing him and retrieving an undercover B.S.A.A. agent and her son. Inevitably it all goes to crap as all the soldiers except Chris die and that undercover agent and her son both ended up infected by Arias and had to be killed.
Rebecca Chambers, has moved fully into the medical field and away from law enforcement to investigate viruses and create vaccines for them. The latest of course being this new virus. After her facility gets attacked and everyone inside gets infected, she manages to survive long enough to inject herself with the vaccine she created moments before. And then Chris with the B.S.A.A. arrive to save her, figuring Arias was out to take down any laboratories that were trying to counteract his virus.
And lastly we have Leon, who’s in a depressive rut over his team getting killed in a mission that happened off screen after someone sold them out and is now drinking his sorrows away. But of course, life wont let him take a break and Chris & Rebecca show up to ask for his help/expertise, as Arias’s virus is partially based off the Las Plagas parasite that the Los Illuminados cult were using and whom Leon had to contend with when he was rescuing the President’s daughter in RE4.
So there we have all 3 protags together and thus the movie starts rolling at a swift pace after that as Rebecca gets kidnapped by Arias and Chris & Leon must race to save her and stop an attack on New York as best they can.
This movie is fun at its very core, the action is cool and over the top, the banter is always nice between characters (Chris’s B.S.A.A. team liking Breaking Bad was an amusing touch) and there’s plenty of zombies to be killed. Don’t go in expecting a game changer for the Resident Evil canon or even any sort of tie-in to 7 (which means this film doesn’t settle [spoiler alert, highlight it] the ending of 7 in regards to whether that was the real Chris or not).
Though shout out to the gun combat here, there’s a lot of ‘gun-fu’ at work from Leon, Chris and Arias that would make John Wick proud. The constant unorthodox reloading, Chris using the bayonet at the end of his gun to slice up the undead hordes, it’s all very flashy yet so much fun. Even Leon’s product placement based motorcycle sequence (gg Ducati) is filled with it (even as he kinda kills some innocents trying to take down 2 infected dogs).
The animation is all pretty solid even if there’s a switch in studio (Marza Animation Planet took over from Digital Frontier, who handled the first 2 CG films) and as a result in character models. It all looks a lot better in motion than how it does in screenshots for sure, but there are moments where the expressions or movements are little awkward or off but they’re far and few between so don’t sweat it. The fight choreography is thrilling, going hand in hand with the over the top gun fights I mention above.
The voice work is top notch as to be expected from the studio of Bang Zoom and voice director Alex von David. Matt Mercer continues his streak as Leon Kennedy as fine as usual while Kevin Dorman and Erin Cahill feel a little shaky at first taking over for Chris and Rebecca (though Kevin did previous voice Chris in the Umbrella Chronicles game so he’s got some experience) but they settle in quite fine without a hassle. John Demita hams it up wonderfully as the mad villain that is Glenn Arias while the supporting turns from Cristina Vee as Maria, Kari Wahlgren as Nadia, Arif S. Kinchen as D.C. and Arnie Pantoja as Damian are all excellent.
Overall, Resident Evil Vendetta is a fun ride filled with plenty of zombie killing and over the top action to entertain plenty. It’s plot may be overly simple and cliched but it does what it sets out to do and passes with flying colours.
So hey, if you like Resident Evil or want to give some form of it a shot, this movie’s not a terrible place to start.