Resident Evil is either getting better or, like superheroine Alice (Milla Jovovich), I've become acclimated to its otherwise toxic virus. Obviously, I'm grading on the doofus-curve, but this latest installment -- don't kid yourself into thinking there'll ever be a final chapter; if Freddy and Jason can't be killed, neither can Jovovich or Umbrella or the Red Queen -- is probably the most entertaining of the bunch. I think that's because I've finally seen the pleasure-logic that forms the foundation for this video game-based series' reason to exist: that it's way less taxing to sit back and let a movie play the game for you than to play it yourself. That way your hands are free to enjoy more snacks.
There's a plot. It involves battle-catsuited Alice fighting the evil Umbrella corporation and its millions of mutant virus zombies the way she always does (she also spends the first few minutes of screen time talking directly to the camera to get first-timers up to speed). It's kind of like those old cartoons where the sheepdog and the fox punch a time clock to perform their daily routine of chasing each other; no matter what they do to Alice (here she's temporarily without her superpowers) she keeps on getting up. Only broken sequel contract negotiations, off-camera baby weight or a resurrection of the Jovovich-Hawk fashion line will get in the way of the endless digital warfare and none of that seems imminent.
Upping the come-on, this time around Michelle Rodriguez returns. This is never a bad thing. The worst films are made less boring by her swagger (and I saw Battle: Los Angeles so I know what I'm talking about) and this is no exception. Even better, she returns to this franchise as two people, the one you know and love that sneers and kills everybody with giant guns, who can take a fire extinguisher to the face and respond to the blow with simple annoyance, and also a comic relief Bizarro Rodriguez who drives a Prius, smiles, hugs Jovovich (who, in turn, serves up a face full of cognitive dissonance) and campaigns against the NRA. Not making that up. It's great, almost as great as the way the zombies have those slimy face-sucking tentacle-mouths.
Obviously there are lingering questions -- none of which should spoil your having a reasonable amount of fun -- such as how, during an apocalypse, does one acquire a working Rolls Royce with spinning rims as a getaway car, and why, if these mutant virus zombies chasing Jovovich are so tough, do some of them need machine guns to do their killing for them, and how many times does a character in a film like this have to say, "LET'S DO THIS!" before anything lasting is actually, you know, done, and how long would the running time be if they took all the slow-motion fighting and sped it up to normal, and can the big Russian monster they find in the Moscow simulation zone keep eating that annoying replicant child over and over, please? Because it's very cool when that happens, less so when she's saved from digestion.