Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness was one of my most anticipated Netflix drops for the whole year. When it was initially announced, the excitement that had instantly flooded my body was incredible. I’ve been a humongous fan of the Resident Evil franchise for many, many years. It is my one and only favourite zombie and zombie-esque series, and probably will be the loner love of my life within that subgenre until the very end of said life. Hell, I even adored the three preceding CGI films that have released thus far, which says a lot because those weren’t all that great. Yet with Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness (RE:ID) I literally buried my face into my hands and muffle-yelled, “What the godawful fuck did I just watch?” My most-anticipated series for all of 2021 had turned into one of the largest disappointments I’ve experienced in years.
Later that evening when I couldn’t sleep due to my chronic insomnia, I began to mentally compile a list of everything that left me grotesquely disappointed with RE:ID. That list was as big as my cat’s gigantic ears, however, after separating what was petty whining for the sake of it due to my sheer frustration from the actual traits that, if better crafted, would’ve made a significant impact on the overall quality, I managed to whittle that list to six shortcomings unique to the Resident Evil universe and characters, which you can check out below from bad to absolute worst!
Not Enough Leon + Claire Moments
Ever since Resident Evil 2, Leon Kennedy and Claire Redfield have had one of the sweetest and most heartfelt friendships in the series. They bonded over their mutual Raccoon City horror extravaganza, and have stuck side-by-side, so to speak, in all of the conflicts that have arisen to bitch slap them henceforth. Whenever Leon is in a film or game, it’s guaranteed that at least two individuals shall make an appearance, one of whom is Claire.
I understand characters grow apart as they navigate their way through separate lives, but the emotional chasm that has taken place between Leon and Claire, to the point where they end up on different extremes of the same fight, made me really fucking mad. It was so incredibly inauthentic and forced. All of the chemistry they had established over the years and various shared experiences didn’t account for anything at all, and this is when it comes to the very few moments they actually spent together. For the most part, the whole anime felt like two inherently separate stories that were mushed together for tradition’s sake, and it was a whopping source of disgruntlement to say the least.
Significant Lack of Cheesy Leon One-Liners & Action Shots
My handsome boy Leon is one cheesy as motherfucker. His typically pun-infested one-liners can simultaneously make one cringe, smile, laugh, and cry in a go. That element of his 90s-esque persona has always been a dominant feature of his personality. Leon Kennedy isn’t Leon Kennedy without those one-line laughables. So… where the hell did they go?
Those liners are also usually combined with some tremendously fancy footwork and action shenanigans that only Leon and glorified Bollywood heroes can pull off. Because he also had an infrequent appearance of said Heroic Poses in RE:ID, I suppose it makes some strange sense that the cheesy dialogue would also be missing. But again, that leaves the question of why? Were the creators trying to craft something new and fresh for a whole new generation of RE fans and watchers? Did they forget who the fuck Leon Kennedy is? Or was it time to retire the cringe?
I can tell you one thing: retiring the cringe is never an option for Leon because the cringe is what makes him so goddamn fabulous, as well as what makes Resident Evil such a fun fucking franchise.
Fragmented Linear Plot & Ridiculously Rushed Progression
Originally, I had these two listed as separate sections, but since they really impact one another so heavily, it made sense that they belong under the same umbrella (ha ha, see what I did there? Leon would be proud).
What is a plot? Oh, it’s a space where dead things go to get buried. Ah, RE:ID, I understand what you were trying to do now!
Linear storytelling doesn’t surprise me much with Resident Evil because there always seems to be some straightforward angle that eventually gets convolutedly tied to the rest of the bioweaponry hot mess that has laid the groundwork for everything the franchise stands for, narratively speaking. In that aspect, I’m not surprised at all at the thinly veiled pretence of “plot” and “story” just to stir up some extremely disjointed political hoopla. What did bother me, however, was how excruciating the progression was.
The film… I mean, the series jumps right into a foray of fighting and conspiracies without any concrete background. It dropped tiny breadcrumbs of clues here and there, which were then gobbled up by other titbits, robbing the anime of any potential cohesiveness. The storyboarding for RE:ID must have been a dart board due to how terribly rushed and inconsistent everything was. I’ve seen bad writing before. Shoot, I’ve seen bad RE writing before. But there’s bad and then there’s… well, this plot. All it really needs now is a decrepit tombstone to match.
A Segmented Series When it Should’ve Been a Movie
Why. The. Fuck. Was. This. A. Series?!?! I mean, seriously. I’m not being rhetorical here. WHY?!
All together the series runs approximately 2 hours long, which is around the same length as the other three films that came before it, give or take. In fact, if one watches all of it in a single sitting, it genuinely feels like a film that has been chopped up into four separate segments like some fucking firewood. Sandwich in some opening and closing songs and BAM! We got the Lagasse of anime.
A film could have given the producers and writers more to work with in terms of putting together something that flows better from one point to the next, more so when one considers the non-linear expression and flashbacks. Additionally, it would have made a far better match to the media instalments, as they have all been films.
I understand and respect a desire to create an actual anime series for Resident Evil. It’s something new that the fans have wanted for years, and it does add some variety to this large, beloved franchise. Even so, if it was only going to be tossed together like some rotting salad with more browns than greens, I would have preferred that it have not been made to begin with. This becomes further emphasised by the other thing that RE is known for…
Atrocious Anti-Climactic Monster Baddy
…mutating monster baddies at the end.
Ordinarily, as we reach the climax and ultimate conflict of the films, the scoundrel will begin to mutate in stages. We have the “Oh shit, my shoulder is staring at me” Stage and then one Super Saiyan level after another until they are so ferocious and intimidating that it takes a whole damn building and a pile of rocket launchers and forty-two photo-worthy action shots to take down. Yet, here all we got was a Hulk-out shift in shape, some last remnants of tears as his humanity is broken like fake Ada’s neck, and the most anti-climactic Resident Evil boss monster death I have ever witnessed.
Are you fucking kidding me? I would’ve been more entertained by watching Claire clean her glasses…
NO ADA WONG!!!
Speaking of feeling ripped off… There is no such thing as Resident Evil with Leon Kennedy without Ada fucking Wong!! Their flirting and fighting foreplay. The longing stares. The I should kill you, but I’ll save you and kill you later chemistry—it’s all so fricking necessary. Required reading, err watching, if you will. Essential to breathing. Tossing in some other similarly-faced, fake ass replacement does not an Ada Wong make.
This girl who they had replace Ada had no presence on-screen at all. She was there to add a level of evocativeness and some “humane” motives for what everyone was trying to accomplish, but at the end of the day, it was a colossal waste of effort. She brought nothing new or fresh to the film. Series, goddammit, she brought nothing fresh to the anime series, nor the series universe as a whole. She also didn’t have a lick of chemistry with Leon, or even monster guy (kind of implied at the end, but like everything else in RE:ID, it was a colossal botch-job).
(I also didn’t care for the implication that characters of East Asian identity are exchangeable as a dime-a-dozen when surrounded by Western characters. The thought is even more startling when one considers Ada Wong is a Chinese-American character created by Japanese gaming studios… but that could be a whole other discussion in and of itself.)
Ada Wong was also my very first video game crush ever, and to not have her here when she bloody well should’ve been… it’s what made my entire experience of sitting through such an unholy waste of time. I kept hoping that she would make an appearance. Fly onto the screen in the sensuous, sassy way that she does, save Leon’s ass so Leon can save everyone else’s ass, steal the information, and fly away just as smoothly. It was the ultimate make it or break it facet for me, and ultimately it broke it.
After all of this whining and griping, I can safely say that while I vehemently disliked Resident Evil: Infinite Darkness, the chances of me re-watching it again and possibly even again after that are still rather high. What can I say? I’m wholly and utterly loyal to this enormously outrageous heap of survival horror, and because of that loyalty, I would—surprisingly—recommend other RE fans that are just as dedicated to take two hours out of their day to watch it. At the very least it will give you something to scream at. At the absolute best, you will laugh your ass off at its failures’ fearlessness.