Few filmmakers let space be such a large part of their narratives like WS and his areas of play. These frame and affect the action, and condition character decisions to their rules. Here, the Kamchatka facility is the valley of the uncanny for viewer and Alice alike; transforming settings we know (at least cinematically) into menacing ("You are all going to die.") arenas for slaughter. How far can the rules be bent?
Despite my low expectations, this may be the stupidest fucking movie I've seen in my entire life. I'll give it points for coming off like a video game (not the video game off of which it was based, but a video game nonetheless) but the plot was as pointless as it was dumb. In spite of this, the imagery was decent for what it was but anything more than the 90-minute running time probably would've induced an embolism.
The RESIDENT EVIL movies have made a Simpsons rake gag of the "it was all a dream/programming" conceit, and yet again WS manages to expand outwards in scope, style, and mood, plunging into ever-deeper implications of sheer, unrelenting nihilism. Everyone's a clone, maybe, ever-destined to be used and reused, w/ occasional tweaks, by a sadistic audience. Yet it's still the best straightforward action film of the year.
Even considering the source material, this is the most video game-like movie I have ever seen. The screen displays maps of the 'levels' our actors must traverse, while a talking head relays mission objectives. Half the dialogue consists of characters shouting how much time they have left before a figurative 'Game Over.' Paul W.S. Anderson seems to be getting closer to his ultimate 3D B-movie masterpiece.
Despite a cool slo-mo backwards opening credits roll this is easily the worst of the series to date. At one point Alice remarks 'i've heard that before' and we the audience couldn't agree with her sentiment more. Same old characters, same old flip flop of heroes and villians,same old tired monsters this time mostly in a VR land that makes no sense on reflection. Like the last entry best shot is the final cliffhanger.
Perhaps Anderson's magnum-opus? He pushes his key visual signature ( aside from symmetry) of surveillance to a point of actual thematic substance. Starting with the stunning playback opening and the recycling of various setpieces and cast members we get the sense of reflexivity towards the entire series. As the source image shifts between formats and locations swiftly, we never forget that we're watching a film.
Not an adaptation of a video game but an adaptation of all video games AS video games, digital constructs where humans are reduced to pure information and instruments. Anderson plays fast and loose with game conventions, yet ends up with a detailed insight on the art of the new millenium, the rise of games and the fall of cinema. Perhaps it could have been 15 minutes shorter, but everything before is a masterpiece.