Resident Evil: Damnation is All About Wisecracking Leon
To coincide with the release of Resident Evil 6, Capcom has also released its second fully CGI Resident Evil film, Resident Evil: Damnation. And if you’re a fan of Resident Evil protagonist Leon S. Kennedy and a series of cliche one-liners, it might be a movie for you.
Primarily, the movie stands as a link between old and new elements of the Resident Evil series — specifically, joining the Las Plagas parasites first introduced in Resident Evil 4 with the more traditional Bio-Organic Weapons of the older games. It also is part of the official canon, so you can consider the events of the story as being part of the greater Resident Evil storyline.
But does Damnation add anything to your enjoyment of Resident Evil 6? Uh…no, as the story is more of a one-off story about Leon’s adventures than it is an element that adds to your greater understanding of the series or its characters. Leon is more likable and more emotionally involved in the story in even just the first few minutes of Resident Evil 6 than he is in the whole of Damnation. And that’s to say nothing of the fact that Resident Evil 6 abandons most elements from previous games in terms of story, while Damnation maintains them.
Still, there’s fun to be had. Damnation has a lot of monsters killing people in some beautifully rendered CGI. It looks great, it’s packed full of action, and if you’ve got a 3-D TV of which you can take advantage, you’ll get to see quite a few sick moments of objects flying at your face (often after having passed through brains).
The story is another of Leon’s adventures in searching out B.O.W.s in his role as a special agent to the President. At the opening of the film, he’s sent to the fictional Eastern Slav Republic, a former Soviet Union country that’s falling into civil war. Independence fighters in the country are fighting a government that is looking to take its land for its rich oil deposits, and at the start, there have been rumors that monsters (namely, Resident Evil’s Lickers) have been appearing on battlefields.
Leon shows up just in time to have his orders rescinded. He ignores them, spouting something about vacation getting cancelled (he almost says “I’m gettin’ too old for this s–t,” I swear), and gets himself captured by the freedom fighters. Turns out, they have something new — cultivated Las Plagas parasites that allow them to control B.O.W.s.
The parasites are the new enemies first created in Resident Evil 4, the ones that take over hosts and allow them to be weapon-wielding, coordinated brands of zombie-like enemies instead of just mindless eating machines. The independence fighters are trying to use the B.O.W.s to turn the tide against the overwhelming power of the government, with plans to attack the capital within a day of Leon’s arrival.
Primarily, Leon’s aim is to convince the independence fighters to stop using the Plagas, or otherwise deter them. It becomes a bit easier when it becomes apparent that there’s a full-scale Plaga outbreak in the independents’ home city — apparently, there’s more to the B.O.W. story than the separatists originally believed.
The rest of the story has Leon running from place to place, fighting off lots of various monsters and being a generalized badass. That makes for quite a few good action sequences, and at its heart, Damnation has more in common with a summer blockbuster than even the most summer blockbustery titles in the game series.
That attitude is reflected in how different Leon is from his stint in Capcom’s last Resident Evil movie, Resident Evil: Degeneration. That film saw Leon taking charge of a zombie outbreak in an airport, and he was a lot more like his all-business persona in Resident Evil 4 and Resident Evil 6. Here, he’s much more of an action star — he has a pithy line for every occasion, and it tends to be a pithy line you’ve heard a million times before, too.
So the writing isn’t really the greatest thing you’ve ever seen, even compared to a game series that often has some idiosyncratic writing to begin with. Where Damnation is weakest is in its lack of a solid tone, however. It wishes Leon Kennedy was Bruce Willis from 20 years ago. That’s not a bad thing, really, at all — except that that’s not the Leon Kennedy we’ve come to know over several games, and a wisecracking action hero leading in the leading role has never really been what Resident Evil is like, or about.
But primarily, Resident Evil: Damnation exists to look cool. It does that pretty admirably with its action sequences, numerous CGI monsters and 3-D effects. If you go into it expecting a Resident Evil revelation — sorry, you’re in the wrong place (and probably the wrong franchise). But the movie is fun, at least, might prime you for Resident Evil 6 when it releases on Oct. 2, and links in a bit with the greater series storyline. On the whole, it’s not a bad rental, at least.