Resident Evil (2022)
Cast: Ella Balinska, Lance Reddick, Siena Agudong, Tamara Smart
Resident Evil has something of a reputation when it comes to adaptations. That reputation is that they are pretty bad. Paul WS Anderson originally brought the beloved video game series to life at the turn of the millennium with the first of 6 Resident Evil movies starring Milla Jovovich. From the start, they were somewhat divisive, forgoing the source material entirely in favor of a new story, but retaining some of the plot elements, such as Umbrella, and making some of the game’s most recognizable monsters appear. Despite that, they have an audience, as there aren’t many video game or movie franchises that have many theatrical releases, let alone six. And while the movies can be very silly, they are also very entertaining. The latest cinematic installment did a complete 180, setting the film during the events of the first two games, and while it was nice to finally see that on screen, it was too late. At this point, we had already seen numerous remakes and re-releases of the games, meaning that the story had already stepped on the same ground multiple times.
So what can the new Netflix bring to the table, where these cinematic installments have failed, as well as several computer-animated movies? Fortunately for us, it turns out to be a fantastic cast and an engaging story set several years after the events of the main video game series. The show takes place in 2 parallel timelines, showing us part of New Raccoon City in 2022 and a world ravaged by the T-Virus in 2036. It is between these two eras that we see the struggle of the Wesker sisters, Billie and Jade. Daughters of the infamous Albert Wesker, one of the Umbrella Corporation’s most notorious employees. We see them relocated to this sterile corporate world of NRC, where their father is working on one of Umbrella’s new miracle drugs.
Umbrella being Umbrella, they’re still up to their old tricks. Only this time pharmaceuticals are being made instead of weapons. What can go wrong? Each episode is packed with twists, turns, and monsters of the week. And while it initially feels like the TV show is about as far apart as the Paul Anderson movies, the further we get into the series, the more the dots start to connect. We’re even invited to solve classic Resi-style puzzles, which will likely strike a chord with fans of the first game. The spirit of the classic games is kept alive and well, with a rogues gallery of abominations causing trouble for the cast and it’s great to see them implemented in this way.
All of this takes place in the shadow of the previous games, where the events of the Resident Evil series are often referenced, whether in conversations, video footage, or through journalists trying to bring Umbrella down. And despite its closeness to the source material, it’s not a bad thing. With each installment of the games, especially the most recent generations, they got more ridiculous and bombastic, upping the ante on the simpler, more puzzle-focused originals. And with that came dumber plotlines and even dumber characters. Fortunately, aside from Wesker, the only other things that show up are monsters.
The leads are fantastic, with great performances from Ella Belinska and Tamara Smart, who play the future and present versions of Jade Wesker, and Siena Agudong as Billie. The biggest and best, however, is Lance Reddick, who plays Albert Wesker, in a surprisingly deep and multi-layered role. Resident Evil may have had something of a social media backlash, but that’s probably due more than anything to the casting of certain characters, but this is probably the best adaptation of the video game series yet. As entertaining as the PWSA movies are, they are just plain fun. Resident Evil is a really great TV show, ending on a fantastic cliffhanger and season 2 can’t come fast enough.