Ranking the Resident Evil movies from worst to best

The Resident Evil films may not be critical favorites but here's how each installment in the hit video game adaptations ranks!

Milla Jovovich promotes Resident Evil
Milla Jovovich promotes Resident Evil / James Devaney/GettyImages
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Video game movies don’t have a good track record, to say the least. There are exceptions, like the first Mortal Kombat film and The Super Mario Bros Movie was a great hit. But the flops have outweighed the success in how video game films don’t work out well. Which is why the Resident Evil movies stand as such a fantastic achievement. 

When the first film debuted in 2002, the critics were not kind and tore it apart. Audiences didn’t care as it made over $100 million. Director Paul W.S. Anderson made the story work. Based on the long-running hit games, the plot has the Umbrella Corporation accidentally unleashing the T-Virus, transforming people into murderous zombies. A woman named Alice (Milla Jovovich) has to fight to survive in a world of clones, mutated monsters, an evil AI called the Red Queen and more. 

Five sequels followed, each one amping up the action and each a bigger hit than the previous one. It ended in 2017 with The Final Chapter, though an attempted reboot was made in 2021. All told, the series has grossed $1.2 billion, an astounding amount for any franchise.

Let’s be honest: None of the movies are what could be called “good” by film standards. Even the better ones are dumb yet fun in their own way. The better ones are by Anderson and Jovovich, making for a compelling lead. 

Ignoring the direct-to-video animated films, these are how the seven main Resident Evil movies rank, worst to best. No matter how you feel about them, one has to respect a franchise so critically hated becoming one of the most successful in film history. 

Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorcese
Fans / Eric Charbonneau/GettyImages

7. The Final Chapter

Wrapping up the saga should have been a good thing for the series. Instead, it limped badly. It doesn’t help that the opening basically ignores the ending of Retribution and all the characters except Alice. We get an info dump as it’s as if there was an entire other movie meant to bridge the gap but never made. That sets a bad tone for the film that keeps up through the action.

The movie tries to tie everything up in an arc involving Alice, the Red Queen, and the T-Virus, and the angle that the rich and powerful will just leave the rest of humanity to die is intriguing. Yet the action is ridiculous, and the finale is too abrupt. It’s not the grand send-off the saga deserved, and so the Resident Evil series just limped to a rough end rather than having a topper to such a successful saga. 

Ukrainian movie star Milla Jovovich pose
Ukrainian movie star Milla Jovovich pose / JOERG KOCH/GettyImages

6. Apocalypse

On the one hand, Apocalypse does have the popular game character Jill Reinfeld played by Sienna Guillory who even keeps to the character’s iconic outfit. Sadly, the lack of Anderson is felt as Alexander Witt doesn’t have the same craft for the property. Having the zombies breaking out into Raccoon City should be a lot more fun than this. 

There are too many annoying characters, like a news reporter, and the action doesn’t flow as it should. The attempt to add tension with an incoming nuke and rescuing a little girl likewise doesn’t work well. It’s not truly awful, but it is also the lowest-rated of the movies, and it's amazing the series managed to last so long after this entry. 

Wentworth Miller, Milla Jovovich, Ali Larter
"Resident Evil: Afterlife" Japan Press Conference / Kiyoshi Ota/GettyImages

5. Afterlife

The opening for this film is terrific, showing how the T-Virus erupted in Japan. It then shows a pack of Alice clones attacking Umbrella, wiped out with villain Wesker taking away Alice’s superhuman abilities. Alice soon reunites with Claire and her brother Chris (Wentworth Miller nicely hamming it up) to board the floating colony Arcadia.

Yep, the action is insane as Anderson uses the 3-D to full effect, making the action wilder than ever. That includes some goofy CGI, but Jovovich gives Alice a more nuanced edge when facing mortality. The final battle is crazy, culminating in Wesker literally parachuting away and a surprise cameo from a past character. If nothing else, the return of Anderson and the jump to 3-D gives new life to the franchise. 

Milla Jovovich, Oded Fehr
World Premiere of Screen Gems "Resident Evil: Extinction" / E. Charbonneau/GettyImages

4. Extinction

This entry opens wildly with Alice in a recreation of the mansion escape, only to end up dying. She’s just one of many Alice clones as the T-Virus has gotten loose, turning the world into a desert landscape. The real Alice is soon mixing with a group of refugees led by a feisty Ali Larter as popular character Claire Redfield while wrestling with strange mental powers.

The movie has some crazy stuff, like an attack by killer crows, and emphasizes Alice as some sort of super-powered figure. Yet opening up into the bright daylight after the dour night sequences of the previous films is a great move, giving it more energy. It gives Oded Fehr’s Carlos a big send-off and builds up the mythology to be a great spark for the saga. 

Kaya Scodelario
The Fashion Awards 2021 - Red Carpet Arrivals / Samir Hussein/GettyImages

3. Welcome To Raccoon City

To its credit, this reboot shows its love for the first two Resident Evil games. Kaya Scodelario makes for a great Claire Redfield, who finds herself caught in Raccoon City when the T-Virus goes wild. It’s packed with Easter Eggs for the gamers and some good action while toning down the crazy action pieces.

That might actually work against it, as without those ridiculously over-the-top moments, the movie comes off pretty dull in places. It also feels pretty rushed at 107 minutes, trying to cram too much into it without time to breathe. It can be a divisive film for fans yet for an attempt to retool the franchise, it’s better than some efforts. 

Milla Jovovich
"Resident Evil: Retribution" - Los Angeles Premiere - Arrivals / Gregg DeGuire/GettyImages

2. Retribution

This entry is basically fan service. It has some odd plotlines of an Alice clone living in suburbia before it’s attacked by zombies while the real Alice tries to escape Umbrella. It gets wilder with a recreated Tokyo bringing in game characters Ava Wong, Leon Kenney and Barry Burton and Wesker suddenly on Alice’s side. Oh, and Michelle Rodriguez and Oded Fehr are back, too, in dual roles to boot. 

Very little makes real sense, yet it’s great to watch with frenetic action and some spectacular set pieces, including a battle on a submarine and underwater. The finale was meant to set up the grand conclusion for a huge scene. Sure, it pays a lot of tributes to the past movies, yet it comes together better than it should for a good, dumb, fun action flick. 

Milla Jovovich
Milla Jovovich promotes "Resident Evil" / Theo Wargo/GettyImages

1. Resident Evil

Yes, it’s an obvious pick, but almost everyone will agree the first RE movie remains the best. It amps up the mystery and the action with great moments like the famous “laser hallway” sequence. Jovovich got her first big spotlight as Alice and did a fine job kicking butt in that red dress, while Paul W.S. Anderson nailed the video game feel perfectly. 

While it’s easy to see who’s going to get bumped off (even Michelle Rodriguez’s scene-stealer), the movie retains a claustrophobic air about it that enhances the action and trying to survive this zombie-laden fortress. It can also feel almost downright low-key compared to the sequels that followed. The ending set up the first of the many sequels yet this could stand on its own as one of the better video game adaptations for a wild time. 

The Resident Evil movies are streaming on Netflix

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