Thursday, June 8, 2023

Lance Reddick may make us watch Resident Evil

This week, Netflix released a new Resident Evil series. Based on Capcom’s survival horror franchise, the Umbrella Corporation has constructed New Raccoon City in 2022.

In 2036, the show’s alternative timeline, New Raccoon is overrun with undead. Jade (Ella Balinska in 2036, Tamara Smart in 2022) and Billie (Adeline Rudolph/Siena Agudong) Wesker and their father Albert Wesker (Lance Reddick) link the two timelines.

I haven’t seen the show, but Reddick is one of our best character performers. His voice and presence have stuck with me since I saw him on Fringe as Agent Philip Broyles. In the John Wick flicks, Horizon games, and Destiny that I’ve seen him in, he’s fantastic.

I adore how every syllable he says has the gravity of a Final Fantasy villain going to smash your shit. Wesker, who looks like an anime villain fused with a Matrix figure, would be the perfect role for him.

Reddick plays various Albert Weskers in Resident Evil’s first season. Wesker is a clone named Albert, who has two more clones named Bert and Alby. The show’s narrative uses the games as a foundation for its sci-fi absurdity, and in 2009’s Resident Evil 5, Chris Redfield and Sheva Alomar blew Wesker up in a volcano. (Really.) Before he died, he created clones to continue his evil legacy.

All of this is a decent expansion of Resident Evil’s nonsensical mythos and provides some levity as the episode begins. Alby and Bert are introduced for laughs to highlight that a normal human Wesker wouldn’t get along with two other copies of himself.

Lance Reddick arguing with his clones, one of whom has a goofy beard to tell them different, would spark my curiosity.

Reddick looks excellent as the superhuman badass Wesker from several Resident Evil games. Reddick seems like he’s auditioning to be Mahershala Ali’s Blade in the MCU, and he looks terrific doing it. As he lumbers from clone to clone, glaring them down and silently harassing them, he gives the character a genuine sense of dread.

What gives? Showrunner Andrew Dabb told TheGamer that Wesker wouldn’t allow himself be a single race of flawless beings. “We shouldn’t assume all eugenics equal Ubermensch,” he said. “That’s a specific reading of history.”

“True eugenicists,” Dabb said, would understand that perfect individuals should be more diversified than white people with Aryan blood. “I don’t think Wesker is a eugenicist, but he wants to make the perfect human.”

Sir Francis Galton invented the term eugenics in 1883 to propose that “superior genes” will generate a better human race. Rooted in racism and classism, it’s been employed by the Nazis, Ancient Greece, and the U.S.

It’s been at the center of Resident Evil since the beginning, more than the zombies, and Wesker is a white, blond Ubermensch. The idea of him replicating himself to be more varied feels like a pretext to cast Reddick. Strange and foolish enough to grab my attention.

Resident Evil, I’ll watch. I’ll watch even though the franchise is erratic and prior live-action attempts were hit or miss. Lance Reddick is my favorite actor. If they can do more seasons and explore what a black Wesker means, the show will be even better.

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