Title: Resident Evil: Vendetta
Release Date: June 19, 2017
Studio: Marza Animation Planet / Capcom Company
Director: Takanori Tsujimoto
Release Format: Theatrical (Limited)
Resident Evil remains, without a doubt in my mind, my favorite video game series. Even with garbage games bogging it down, like Resident Evil 6 and Resident Evil: Survivor, I have remained a devoted fan. However, if there’s one particular thing that fans of this franchise can all agree on, it’s that Paul W.S. Anderson’s Resident Evil films were terrible. A spit in the face to the game series, made by a man who clearly has passion and yet rarely bothers to show it. On the other hand, the CGI Resident Evil films produced by Capcom have been consistently decent. Resident Evil: Degeneration & Resident Evil: Damnation were both fine films, even if they never reached a level of greatness. Resident Evil: Vendetta reaches that level and it is glorious.
Chris Redfield (Kevin Dorman) is hot on the trail of Glenn Arias (John DeMita), a bioterrorist out for revenge. Furthermore, his discoveries lead him to an old friend, Rebecca Chambers (Erin Cahill). Chambers has made scientific breakthroughs that may hold the key to stopping Arias. However, when Arias takes Rebecca hostage, Chris turns to Leon S. Kennedy (Matthew Mercer) for help. Now Leon, Chris and histeam of agents must save Rebecca and take out Arias before he can enact his revenge.
Something I would like to address first and foremost is the seemingly universal negative response to this film. I can understand someone who knows nothing about Resident Evil hating this film. However, what I’m talking about is the fans who have berated this film as of late. I honestly don’t understand this and most of the criticism’s really don’t make sense. For example, fans were confused that “Rebecca was made into a scientist for no reason”. Rebecca was ALWAYS a scientist. Her knowledge or Botany and Medicines were what made her qualify as the youngest S.T.A.R.S. operative. So that’s one criticism we can toss straight out the window.
In my opinion, Resident Evil: Vendetta represents the best Resident Evil movie we have ever had. It isn’t perfect but it comes pretty close at times. The story is engaging for the most part. It features a sympathetic villain with understandable motives. We get two heroes with vastly different opinions and demeanors, who team up for a common goal. There’s even a strong female character in Rebecca Chambers. Yes, I know she was taken hostage but so was Jill Valentine in Resident Evil 5; that didn’t make her any less of a badass. I was pleased to have Rebecca back as she hadn’t shown up in anything game or movie related since Resident Evil: Zero.
Erin Cahill voiced Rebecca this time around. She could be the calm and collective voice of reason but also the smart heroine that we loved from the games. I’ve been a fan of this actress since Power Rangers: Time Force back in 2001 and her performance as Rebecca was on point. Matthew Mercer delivered another fine performance as Leon. I’ll admit, it did take me awhile to warm up to Mercer playing this character. When he first took over the role in Resident Evil: Damnation, it was a bit jarring and it really did nothing for me. Paul Mercier played the character in the first CGI film, Resident Evil: Degeneration, as well as Resident Evil 4. It was just the voice I’d gotten used to. While I still prefer Paul Mercier, Matthew Mercer certainly commits to the character and does an admirable job.
I can say the same for Kevin Dorman as Chris Redfield. The only other time Dorman played this character was in Resident Evil: The Umbrella Chronicles, inarguably one of the worst games of the franchise. However, like Mercer, Dorman’s voice fit the role well and it wasn’t a huge voice difference. Dorman gets the gruff, tough attitude of Redfield down for the most part and it works. What makes it all work best is the comradery between Leon and Chris. One thing I hated about Resident Evil 6 is that the trailers promised Chris & Leon going head to head. However, that was only one scene in the game and it was incredibly underwhelming. I can’t speak for everyone but it left me feeling empty.
Resident Evil: Vendetta makes up for the sins of Resident Evil 6 by having these two team up for a common goal, despite their plain to see differences. These are two characters who don’t really share the same attitude or the same ideals. Chris is still very much a soldier while Leon has seen and been through so much that he’d rather be left alone. Given both of their histories in the games, these seem like logical places for both characters to be in at this point in the timeline. I’m still wondering what the hell happened to Jill, but I digress. The point is that when Chris and Leon are on screen together, the writing aspect of Resident Evil: Vendetta shines brightest.
The visuals shine brightest, however, during the pulse-pounding action scenes. CGI or not, every action scene in Resident Evil: Vendetta gave me a jolt. They are all beautifully choreographed and animated and none of them are pointless. Compare this to the action scenes in the live-action films. They are pointless action set-pieces for the sake of having pointless action set-pieces. Resident Evil: Vendetta remained story and character driven, only resorting to action when it absolutely had to. There was not a single bad action scene or visual in this film. I will admit the final battle went on a tad too long but it was thrilling nonetheless. A certain scene with Leon and Chris fighting together in a hallway filled with zombies gave me chills. I can’t praise it enough.
Now, I can’t say everything about Resident Evil: Vendetta was perfect. While Resident Evil: Vendetta may be story and character driven but it relies a bit too heavily on exposition at times. It doesn’t do this throughout the entire film but it does do it too often regardless. Could it have just been Capcom’s budgetary constraints? Who knows? But it is a flaw in the film regardless. It’s not just that it’s exposition, it’s that the exposition in some places went on for too long to the point where you’re saying, “get to the point already.” It’s a tad lazy, not gonna lie.
The villain, Glenn Arias, has good reason for seeking revenge and you understand him. John DeMita even does a great job playing him. He reminded me of the suave, badass Resident Evil villains of old (Wesker/Birkin/Spencer). However, his reasons for taking Rebecca are… questionable at best. It’s a coincidental and admittedly stupid motive that he has for taking her and it feels incredibly forced.
VERDICT: Overall, Resident Evil: Vendetta represents a solid Resident Evil tale with pulse-pounding action, gorgeous visuals, and solid acting from the cast. It was great to see Chris and Rebecca working together again and it was fun to see Leon and Chris’ egos go head to head. As a fan of the games, I am more than happy with what this film gave us. It’s a film that understands Resident Evil and its fanbase, delivering a story that stands toe to toe with some of the best games in the franchise. If this movie was a game, I’d play the hell out of it.
- Great Voice Acting
- Beautiful Visuals
- The Best Action Of Any Resident Evil Film
- Well-Developed & Fleshed Out Characters
- Story Fits Well With Resident Evil Canon
- Relies A Little Too Heavily On Exposition In Some Scenes.
- The Villain's Primary Motives Are Understandable But His Intentions For Rebecca Are Questionable At Best.
A graduate of Full Sail University with a Bachelors Degree in Creative Writing, Adam is a Writer and Film Critic, looking to make his mark on the world. When he isn’t at the movies, writing for The Nerd Stash, playing Duck Hunt (respect the classics) or delivering pizzas to his neighbors, he is back at school earning his Masters Degree in Film Production.