I just finished watching Resident Evil: Afterlife on DVD. Many of you may be asking why. If so…if you really don’t understand my motivations…there is a substantial probability you are a sheltered woman or a smug, artsy, overly pacifistic man, because the answer is clearly the following: Milla Jovovich, martial arts, Milla Jovovich, guns and more guns, Milla Jovovich, zombie and mutant monster mayhem, and hot supporting female actors hanging out around Milla Jovovich’s character.
In any case, now having watched the original Resident Evil film many years ago (which wasn’t bad; it balanced the video game vibe with movie plotting decently) and then later the sequels Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction (both pretty iffy at best, especially Extinction, but super-powered Alice was cool) and now the fourth installment of the franchise, I feel very confused about the fictional Umbrella Corp. which seems to have endlessly deep pockets, and ability to build gigantic high-rise-like complexes underground (beneath cities, no less) without anyone noticing and a military force better than those of most governments. They have so much going for them, and yet they make the stupidest decisions ever. How did they get so big and rich with that kind of strategy?
Anyway, here’s how I imagine Umbrella Corp. executive meetings go…
SCENE: Umbrella Corp. world headquarters. Conference room with a long table that can seat 50. The walls, floor and ceiling are all made of some pristine white plastic-like material. Seated are three individuals: A guy with English accent in a black suit inexplicably wearing sunglasses (hereafter called Cool Exec), a woman in a sexy combat jumpsuit with scoop neck and a bug-shaped biomechanical device affixed right beneath her ample bosom (hereafter called Hot Exec), and a thin guy wearing a tweed sport coat, loosely knotted tie and khaki slacks (hereafter called Voice of Reason).
Voice of Reason (shouting): Uh, guys! Why are you two sitting at either end of this really long table and I’m in the middle? Can’t we do this in a smaller conference room or something?
Cool Exec: No, we can’t. Conference Room 1 is currently being used to test a deadly acidic gas on the janitorial staff. Room 2 has been infected with a sentient form of smallpox since April. Room 3 is booked for a going-away party for Clive Daniels, who is retiring…
Hot Exec: Clive fell into the blade-filled threshing pit next to the break room this morning. The going-away party has been reclassified as a wake.
Cool Exec: All right, a wake, then. In any case, the only ones that aren’t booked are conference rooms with practical carpeting and beige walls bearing tasteful and expensive paintings. And their tables seat no more than 10 people comfortably.
Voice of Reason (still shouting): Those sound way more comfortable for a meeting of the three people who determine the course of all of Umbrella Corp.’s actions.
Hot Exec: *sigh* All right, all right. Will you stop bitching if we all just gather at my end of the table?
Voice of Reason (quieting down as he and Cool Exec head for Hot Exec’s end of the table): Can we wheel in a cart with some coffee and pastries, too?
Cool Exec: Why?
Voice of Reason: Because you keep looking at my face and licking your lips and I can hear your stomach growling when you do.
Hot Exec: He’s never been one to eat a filling breakfast before work. I’m sure that’s all it is.
Voice of Reason: Uh huh. (Turns to face Cool Exec) Why are you wearing shades? Did you inject yourself with the T-virus?
Cool Exec: Nonsense. It’s just this room is bright because of the white ceiling, walls, floor and conference table.
Voice of Reason: Yeah, right. They’re matte white. It’s bright in here but there’s no glare. Let me see your eyes.
Hot Exec: I assure you that his eyes are not reptilian and glowing red behind the sunglasses.
Voice of Reason: How would you know that’s what…All right, just let’s get on with the meeting and no one eat my face off, OK?
Hot Exec: Reasonable plan. I approve. (Turns to Cool Exec): You?
Cool Exec: I agree as well. No eating each other’s faces. That’s three votes. Motion carried.
Hot Exec: All right. That was a great meeting. Glad to all be on the same page. We’ll meet again Friday morning.
Voice of Reason: Wait. What? (as the other two get up and leave the room) But what about the Red Queen issue…? Fuck.
Hot Exec: OK, we’re gathered again. What’s on the agenda?
Voice of Reason: We were supposed to talk about the Red Queen issue last time but we didn’t get to it. You know? Our artificial intelligence computer that locked down our Raccoon City facility.
Cool Exec: Yes, what’s up with that?
Voice of Reason: The T-virus got out of control. I think it might reanimate the dead bodies and cause some people to mutate into horrendous monsters.
Cool Exec: We are NOT horrend…I mean, ur…that sounds problematic.
Hot Exec: We should immediately mobilize a team to shut down that AI, get in there and bring back some infected individuals for study.
Cool Exec: I agree.
Voice of Reason: No! Red Queen is doing her job. The AI locked down the facility to prevent a highly virulent virus from spreading. What we need to do is arrange to nuke…
Hot Exec: A small team, I think. Just a few people. There can’t be more than several hundred violent enemies in the facility.
Cool Exec: Excellent idea. A small team will hold down expenses.
Voice of Reason: No! If we did go in there, we’d need overwhelming force and biohazard-equipped troops.
Hot Exec: No…sorry. Annual shareholder meeting in a few weeks. We need to show a strong rise in earnings per share.
Cool Exec: We’re still going to send in a small team to shut down the AI and regain control of the facility, though, right?
Hot Exec: Of course.
Voice of Reason: The AI is doing her job, damn it! We programmed her to do this for all our safety. If we mess with her the virus could spread through the city and maybe the whole world.
Hot Exec: Well, we won’t know how bad the virus is until we see it in action.
Cool Exec: Yes. I’d love to see what it would do out in the wild.
Voice of Reason: We can download Red Queen’s data remotely and recreate the most recent version of the virus in a completely sealed-off lab in a remote location later.
Cool Exec: But that wouldn’t be any fun at all.
Hot Exec: Agreed. Two votes against one. Send in the team. (Turns to Voice of Reason) You really need to loosen up. If you can’t enjoy life, what have you got to live for? Want me to send one of my bio-enhanced special operatives over to your suite to give you an intimate massage?
Voice of Reason: What the fuck. Might as well get laid before the apocalypse.
Voice of Reason: Thanks for showing up, guys. I mean, a two-day delay and all that when I told you it was ultra-urgent. Do you know how hard it is to convince the U.S., state and local governments that nothing’s wrong when we seal off an entire city?
Hot Exec: I was wondering why the commute looked so bad from my chopper today when I flew over the city on the way here. Was there a pile-up? (cell phone rings and she takes the call)
Voice of Reason: No, the entire city is infected with a zombie-creating and person-mutating virus that got loose because you two decided to send in a team to turn off the AI that was keeping the virus contained underground in a state-of-the-art research facility.
Cool Exec: Oh, that’s right. I went off on a skiing trip after we made that decision. How did it go?
Voice of Reason: The team, with the help of one of our operatives, Alice, succeeded in that insane mission and now the virus is loose and the city is a lost cause and we need to figure out how to vaporize it and about seven surrounding communities just to be sure that…
Hot Exec (putting away her phone): Alice has been captured. Also, I’m informed that we turned one of her comrades into a huge, hulking, mind-controlled mutant with the T-virus.
Cool Exec: Awesome! (does a high-five with Hot Exec)
Voice of Reason: NOT awesome. This is out of control.
Hot Exec (paying no attention to him and facing Cool Exec): We should have a cage match between Alice and the big mutant guy.
Cool Exec: Best idea ever!
Voice of Reason: What? Why would we…fuck it. I’m going to go get laid again—several times—while I still have the chance to.
Cool Exec: Well, I know it’s been a while since we’ve met, but things have been busy, what with the end of the world and all that. So, how do our financials look?
Voice of Reason: We’re paying our staff and black-op troops with food, sex, drugs and booze. Currency no longer has any meaning. At least 95% of the U.S. population and between 65% and 80% of the rest of the world so far is either a zombie or a mutant. Civilization is at an end. We are the only organization that still has functional operations and a military structure. So far, the decision to fund a small army is the only decision this company has embarked on that I’m glad of right now.
Hot Exec: Dammit! This means we’ll have to cancel the big Christmas party and put off the big convention in Las Vegas this year.
Voice of Reason: Yeah. And pretty much put off everything else. We need to hunker down, watch our resources, clear some small island nation of every diseased inhabitant and move ourselves there to set up a new civilization. We have plenty of experts in agriculture…
Cool Exec: Nope. I ate…I mean I fired all of them to control costs.
Voice of Reason: We don’t have any costs to control now that money is meaningless. Take off those sunglasses and let me see your eyes.
Cool Exec: No.
Voice of Reason: Did a set of tendrils just start waving around in the back of your throat? And do you have a few fangs now…
Cool Exec: I’ve been working out and taking lots of vitamins.
Voice of Reason: That doesn’t make any sense. What a stupid excuse. You DID inject yourself with the T-virus.
Cool Exec: Maybe just a little…
Voice of Reason: Why in hell would you do that? This is a clear conflict of interests now that you’re a mutant.
Cool Exec: We agreed none of us would eat off each other’s faces.
Hot Exec: He’s right, you know. We did. That’s something. He’s clearly still a team player.
Voice of Reason: OK, I amend that to no eating of ANY parts of each other’s bodies, and no murder or torture or dismemberment of each other, either.
Cool Exec and Hot Exec: Agreed. Motion carries.
Voice of Reason: Cool. Now, since we no longer have the expertise to set up a self-sustaining food source thanks to someone’s mutant appetite for human flesh, we’ll just have to rely on our hydroponics and chemistry experts to provide us with unpalatable but nutritious sustenance, and we stay locked down in this facility. Thank God we’re powered by a nuclear reactor.
Hot Exec: There might be one problem with the whole hydroponics thing…
Voice of Reason: Oh, shit. What?!
Hot Exec: I fired them so that we could shift resources to cloning Alice. We’re calling it Project Alice, by way. Catchy, isn’t it?
Cool Exec (mandibles extending from his mouth, snapping at the air, and then retreating back down his throat): Extraordinary!
Voice of Reason: Extraordinarily stupid. Alice is the only person who has bonded in a stable way with the T-virus. She has super-powers now, and she hates us.
Hot Exec: We’re going to brainwash her and all her clones.
Voice of Reason: We couldn’t even control her mutated friend properly during your cage match in Raccoon City, and he was a mindless brute. How are we going to control someone in full control of her…
Cool Exec: How many clones?
Hot Exec: Dozens. Maybe hundreds. I’m thinking a total Alice army.
Cool Exec: I love this job!
Voice of Reason: Would it surprise any of you to find out that Alice and her army of fellow clones escaped and helped usher the destruction of our Tokyo facility?
Hot Exec: Is there video? I bet that would be really cool to watch.
Voice of Reason: Yeah. OK. I’ll look into that. In any case, the upside is that she seems to think that was our central headquarters. She doesn’t know about this facility or about us. Apparently, one of our other executives, from that facility—who apparently infected himself with the T-virus…
Cool Exec: Yeah. That. He’s a cousin of mine. I might have suggested…
Voice of Reason: I see he shares your taste for black suits and sunglasses.
Cool Exec: Family tradition.
Voice of Reason: So, apparently, he’s been rounding up people by ship, luring them with a message of safety and security, so that he can experiment on them later.
Hot Exec: Yeah. My idea.
Cool Exec: She told me…
Hot Exec: And with two votes…
Voice of Reason: Yes. Two against one. I get it. I would still like to know so that I can advise you…
Hot Exec: You’re really a stick in the mud. We kinda wanted to cut down on all the lecturing.
Voice of Reason: Is there any reason for me to keep coming to these meetings?
Cool Exec: The smell of your flesh makes me salivate.
Voice of Reason: Not the most compelling argument to convince me…
Hot Exec: Well, after the meetings he and I sometimes make fun of you. I’m a little worried that without you around the only thing we’ll have to talk about is how many staff members he’s eaten.
Voice of Reason: Glad to be of help.
Voice of Reason: Anybody care for my update?
Cool Exec: Sure, why not? I’m full after eating an administrative assistant. Need to sit here a while until my stomach settles.
Hot Exec: I’ll be playing Angry Birds Rio while you’re talking, if you don’t mind. Go ahead.
Voice of Reason: Alice has taken control of our ship, the Arcadia, and blown up your cousin (turning to Cool Exec).
Cool Exec: Bummer.
Hot Exec: But more employees for you to eat without him around.
Cool Exec: Good point.
Voice of Reason: There are only three of them left: Alice and two companions. They’re lightly armed, low on ammo and saddled with a couple thousand people suffering from short-term memory loss whom they just revived a half hour ago. We should be able to take them out with a small strike team from the air. I suggest two or three gunships.
Hot Exec: Oh. I’ve already scrambled several dozen to fly out there.
Voice of Reason: No, no, no. The time for that kind of shit was during the Raccoon City fiasco. Now’s the time to conserve fuel and other resources.
Cool Exec: Is anyone doing a video recording of that assault?
Hot Exec: Three teams so we can all the good angles. We’re even thinking of dropping some weapons down to them on the ship to make things livelier.
Cool Exec: This is gonna be great.
Voice of Reason: Shit. I know how this is gonna go. Well, let me go dig up some butter and popcorn. Let me know when the live feed starts.
(And if all y’all are wondering: Yes, a fifth movie comes out later this year, in September. Resident Evil: Retribution)