With Blade Runner, the blond-haired Dutchman burned an indelible image into the mind of viewers as the psychopathic replicant Roy Batty. Since then, the sometime Guinness salesman has ground out a living in unexceptional sci-fi flicks by trading on the diminishing cache of his most famous role.
In that sense, Hauer’s career provided a useful template for Milla. She followed an early appearance in the acclaimed sci-fi epic The Fifth Element with the middling Ultraviolet and the soon-to-be five strong Resident Evil franchise.
Exploding Helicopter would like to think that, 15 years from now, ‘MaJo’ will still be ploughing away in the genre, and widely recognised as the undisputed queen of low budget sci-fi.
All of which brings us to Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010), the fourth entry in the zombie-killing series. Once again, Alice (Milla Jovovich) is out to destroy the Umbrella corporation only this time she must do it while seeking out other survivors who are heading for the virus free outpost of Arcadia.
Afterlife makes little allowance for viewers who might be joining the franchise at this point. The film takes a smattering of characters from earlier films, borrows liberally from The Matrix, The Thing and Dawn of the Dead, before sprinkling it all with enough Resident Evil lore to keep the fan-boys happy. In many ways, the whole thing feels like it’d been bolted together in an Umbrella laboratory.
But despite the derivative thrills, there are points to enjoy. Action cinema is sadly short of female leads and Jovovich, all impassive cool, remains a great, kick-ass hero. And while there’s little originality, franchise supremo Paul W S Anderson gives the action a slick and shiny gloss.
So, to the exploding helicopter action. And there are a couple to report. The first occurs during the big action set piece that opens the film.
Alice infiltrates an Umbrella base in Japan in a particularly Matrix-lite sequence. Umbrella’s evil mastermind Wesker (Shawn Roberts) escapes in a cool double rotor-bladed helicopter which looks a bit like a stealth fighter plane. Unbeknownst to him, Alice has sneaked onboard. The two shape up to have a show down, but Wesker is a bit of a dim-witted evil mastermind. He fails to properly engage the autopilot and the chopper goes crashing into the side of a cliff before he and Alice can get it on.
We then have to wait for the end of the film before we get any further chopper fireball action. Having bested Wesker in the film’s climatic fight, Alice locks him into a massive laboratory come warehouse. Only she locks him in with some of those cool choppers we saw earlier.
Flying off he thinks he’s outfoxed his opponents at the last. Using his patented ‘evil mastermind remote control unit’ he sets off the self-destruct system on his base. Only in a seemingly pointless piece of chicanery, Alice has put the explosives onboard his craft. Cue a predictable moment of confusion as Wesker hears the countdown timer begin.
We can’t say we were impressed by the helicopter explosions in this. We barely see the first one and must content ourselves with an impressive amount of burning wreckage. Then again, with 70 minutes of the film still to run, Alice and Wesker clearly have to survive this conflagration.
Exploding helicopter innovation
Not great. First known destruction of a helicopter by a human zombie mutant.
Number of exploding helicopters
Do passengers survive?
Yes, both Alice and Wester survive the first exploding helicopter. It’s also possible Wester also survives the second explosion as some eagle-eyed viewers claim to have seen a parachute falling following the explosion. With one eye commendably fixed on the future of the franchise director Paul W S Anderson wisely keeps his options open for the next film.
The ever-enjoyable Kim Coates plays Bennett - a slimy film producer who is one of the survivors that Alice meets. A specialist in sleazebags, Coates gets to kill a couple of people in particularly callous fashion. As usual, it’s a nice turn and you just wish he’d had a few more scenes to work in.
Jovovich adopts a croaky dead pan voice when she’s plays Alice. A bit like she’s trying to do a Clint Eastwood ‘Man With No Name’ type drawl. Sometimes it works, a lot of the time it really grates.
“Technically, I think it’s called crashing.”
Much like the T-virus that the Resident Evil world revolves around, this film franchise refuses to die. This, the fourth in the series, is the highest grossing film of the franchise. Unsurprisingly a fifth film is slated for an autumn release in 2012. Two further CGI-only spin-off films have also been produced - Resident Evil: Degeneration and Resident Evil: Damnation.
Review by: Jafo