Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City

Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City ★★½

The first half of this movie is just about everything I've always wanted in a straight adaptation of the original games. Writer-director Johannes Roberts goes for a revisionist take on the core Resident Evil mythos, establishing Raccoon City as a dying host to the parasitic entity that is Umbrella Corporation -- a compelling dimension for which the fantastical business of "bio-organic weapons" serves as a metaphor.

Roberts' frames, at least in the opening minutes, are irresistibly cinephilic -- borrowing from obvious genre forebears like Carpenter and Romero, whose work also had a massive influence on the games. He hints at a slow-burn affair, indulging his own curious fascination with the titular ghost town by visiting rundown locales (most of which were lifted straight from the games) and methodically introducing key characters.

But then the second half happens. The movie is suddenly in a hurry to rush from one set-piece to the next with no apparent rhyme or reason as the writing takes a turn for the shoddy. Pre-release suspicions that Welcome to Raccoon City would struggle to juggle multiple story threads from the first and second games turned out to be warranted.

Roberts does his best to elevate the proceedings by leaning heavily into genre aesthetics (that touch with the muzzle flash during the mansion fight is classic Roberts), but his formalism could only do so much. By the time the climax barreled along, the movie cared less about itself than I apparently did, which was dispiriting to say the least.

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