Resident Evil: Extinction

When one gets to the third film of what could be a horror/sci-fi trilogy, certain gimmicks have to be introduced.  These include but are not limited to: the end of the world (the risk of or the actual), deserts or cute critters of some sort.  Not to be outdone, director Russell Mulcahy chocks Resident Evil: Extinction with all three!

The world is good and properly screwed by this third installment and Alice (Milla Jovovich) has taken up Leonard Smalls’ (Randall “Tex” Cobb in Raising Arizona (1987)) mantle as “the lone biker of the apocalypse.”  Hiding from the evil Umbrella Corporation for fear of their turning her into a weapon, hiding from her friends for fear that they will be used against her by Umbrella and hiding from the hordes of zombies, because, well, they smell bad, Alice is wandering around directionless.  Much like this movie.

It’s difficult to determine whether or not the lack of direction helps or hurts this movie.  If it were on purpose, Mulcahy may have been showing through the film the terror and nothingness that awaits us poor survivors of the zombie apocalypse: a life of scrounging for food and praying that there will be a point to any of it.  On the other hand, if it were not on purpose, it just goes to show that the filmmakers had no idea what to do with this installment and said “Screw it, put ‘em in the desert and release the crows!”  I go back and forth.

Don’t misunderstand, Extinction has a lot going for it, not the least of which is the sexiest pile of corpses I’ve ever seen. (Yeah, I said it.  Find a cuter corpse pit and we’ll talk.)  Building off the ending of Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004), Alice has gone full-Tetsuo (Akira 1988).  These powers come in hand when Claire Redfield’s (Ali Larter) convoy of survivors is attacked by a murder of zombie crows.  That’s right, zombie crows.  In one of the most metal moments in film history, Alice destroys them using her brain and fire.

Also, helping the film are above average zombie make-up and a heaping helping of Day of the Dead (1985) references.  After five years, the zombies are looking a little worse for wear and the effects team did a wonderful job of showing that decomposing flesh and the sun do not mix.  Meanwhile, Dr. Isaacs (Iain Glen) works in an underground Umbrella facility with the foolish notion of domesticating the zombies into a viable workforce.  Care to guess how that goes?

Like most third films, Extinction does not stand well on its own.  However, within the series, it is not a bad installment and sets up a great ending that does actually continue into the fourth installment.

Give ‘Em Hell, Malone

There are bad movies that are hard to watch, and then there are movies that when they were started, the people putting them together obviously said, "Hell, it ain't Shakespeare. We might as well enjoy ourselves."

Give 'Em Hell, Malone falls strictly in the latter category. It knows it's not going to set any records or get any awards, but I'll be damned if this isn't a fun and funny movie.

Thomas Jane, a Baltimore-born actor (CHARM CITY, REPRESENT!), plays the titular Malone, channeling his best Humphry Bogart. In the first 10 minutes of the film, while narrating about ways to die, Malone wades through a bloodbath in which 15 people die, most of whom he shoots with a big nasty Mateba revolver. While the overall plot is quite convoluted,  it's well aware of how silly it is. There a case, and being a pure MacGuffin, supposedly contains the meaning of love. Said case falls into the possession of Malone, drawing the attention of a local mob boss looking to move into legitamte business...by sending out his top enforcers to brutalize, vandalize, and oh yes-terrorize the case into his sweaty hands. Ving Rames, who chews the scenery like its made of salt-water taffy, plays the intimidating Boulder, one of the fore-mentioned enforcers.

Other supporting characters have equally memorable names like Eddie The Cheese (Tom Olson) and Matchstick (Doug Hutchison).  The script, penned by writer-director Russel Mulcahy (making what may very well be his best film since Highlander), has fantastic lines in it, like "So unless you some some answers in that overwrought hairdo, I suggest you get the hell out of my life." It's here where Jane and Rhames both shine, delivering super-gritty, ultra-cool nonsense as easy as they'd order a pepperoni pizza.

Frank Miller, take note: before you make another cinematic war crime, this movie is how it should be done.

Everything film-noir convention is here: The Femme Fatale (Elsa Pataky), The Asian Assassin (Chris Yen), The wannabe-Sinatra Lounge Singer (French Stuart), and the Neglected Mom, who Malone only goes to see at her nursing home when he needs stitches or bullets removed (Eileen Ryan ).

What's really great about this movie, aside from its death grip on film noir cliches and the stellar writing, is that these characters just sort of accept that they're the only people still living in the late 1940's, and just roll with it. They only begrudgingly acknowledge the modern age when they have to use cell phones. It's kinda' like watching the world'ss coolest LARP.

While the ending throws a curveball that I won't spoil, it surprisingly works, and more importantly-had heart, which is often lacking in a lot of movies of this sort. So if you're looking for an action-pact merging of Sam Spade and Sam Pekinpah-style violence, you could do much worse than Give 'Em Hell Malone. A great cavalcade could be had if you paired with another tongue-in-cheek spin on film noir, like the classic Johnny Dangerously .