Resident Evil wasn't a video game for director Paul W.S. Anderson -- it was holy text. Capcom's survival-horror title debuted in 1996 and grew into a phenomenon with each installment. Anderson, coveted by Hollywood after converting the Mortal Kombat fight games into a viable blockbuster series, drowned in Resident Evil's immersive, blood-gushing gameplay just after Nemesis, the first trilogy-capper. By his own account, he spent a month playing the games through bloodshot eyes, emerging to confused friends with a new goal: make a kick-ass Resident Evil movie.
We rarely celebrate the accomplishments of action directors. Bombast, speed, and cornball setup aren't as dignified as a meditative long shot of A-list actors yapping or a historical re-creation anchored by an Oscar winner. Purists might argue that even Steven Spielberg's greatest feats transcend "blockbuster direction." But with the arrival of Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, the sixth installment of the Resident Evil franchise that drops in America this weekend, Anderson's vision demands the same consideration as our Godfathers, our Mad Mens, and our Scorsese movies. A video-game franchise with niche appeal prevailed for 15 years, all with a single name, Milla Jovovich, leading the charge. Under Anderson's eye (he directed the first, fourth, fifth, and sixth installments, handing two and three off to handpicked successors), Resident Evil became a box-office smash willing to subvert the style and formula each time around.