Borrowing elements from the video games Resident Evil and Resident Evil 2, the film follows amnesiac heroine Alice and a band of Umbrella Corporation commandos as they attempt to contain the outbreak of the T-virus at a secret underground facility. The film received negative reviews from critics but grossed more than $102 million worldwide.
Underneath Raccoon City exists a genetic research facility called the Hive, owned by the Umbrella Corporation. A thief steals the genetically engineered T-virus and contaminates the Hive with it. In response, the facility's artificial intelligence, the Red Queen, seals the Hive and kills everyone inside.
Alice awakens in a deserted mansion with amnesia. She dresses and checks the mansion and she is subdued by an unknown person. A group of commandos break into the mansion and arrest the person, who introduces himself as Matt Addison, who has just transferred as a cop in Raccoon P.D. The commandos explain that everyone in the group, except Matt, is an employee of the Umbrella Corporation, and that Alice and her partner Spence are guards for a Hive entrance under the disguise of a couple living in the mansion. Five hours prior, The Red Queen shut down the entire facility and released amnesia inducing gas. The commando team does not know why the Red Queen sealed the facility. The group travels to the underground train under the mansion that leads to the Hive, where they find Spence. They start the train and travel into the facility.
They reach the Queen's chamber, but it is protected by a laser defense system that kills four of the commandos. Kaplan disables the Red Queen and the power fails, opening all of the doors in the Hive. This releases the zombified staff and containment units containing Lickers, mutated animals. During a battle with the zombies, Rain is bitten and J.D is killed. Alice begins regaining her memories, but Matt and Alice are separated from the group. Matt looks for information about his sister Lisa, while Alice encounters several infected dogs and surprises herself when she reflexively defends herself with martial arts.
Matt finds his sister zombified. Alice saves him and Matt explains that he and Lisa were environmental activists. Lisa infiltrated Umbrella to smuggle out evidence of illegal experiments. Alice remembers she was Lisa's contact in the Hive and was intending to bring down Umbrella, but does not tell Matt. The survivors reunite at the Queen's chamber. The commandos explain that they have one hour before the Hive will seal automatically, trapping them inside. Alice and Kaplan activate the Red Queen in order to find an exit and rig the Red Queen's circuit breaker so they can shut her down remotely to force her cooperation. As they escape through maintenance tunnels, they are ambushed by zombies. Kaplan is bitten and separated from the group.
Alice remembers that an anti-virus is in the lab, but when they arrive it is missing. Spence regains his memory, realizing he stole and released the virus. He hid the T-virus and anti-virus on the train. Spence is bitten, traps the survivors in the lab, and heads to the train. He retrieves the anti-virus, but is ambushed and killed by a Licker as the survivors watch on a security monitor. The Red Queen offers to spare Alice and Matt if they kill Rain, whose health is fading and who has been infected too long for the anti-virus to work reliably. As the Licker attempts to reach them, Rain tells Alice to kill her. Alice refuses, then a power outage occurs. The lab door opens to reveal Kaplan, who disabled the Red Queen to open the door. They reach the train, where Alice dispatches a zombified Spence and takes the anti-virus.
On the train, they inject Rain and Kaplan with the anti-virus. However, the Licker is hiding on the train, and attacks them, clawing Matt. The licker kills Kaplan and hurls him from the train. Alice and Matt battle the Licker. Rain turns into a zombie and attacks Matt, but he kills her. They open a trapdoor, dropping the Licker under the train, killing it. Matt and Alice escape the Hive as the containment doors close.
At the mansion, Matt's wound begins mutating. Before Alice can give him the anti-virus the mansion doors burst open and a group of Umbrella scientists and commandos seize them. They subdue Alice and take Matt away, revealing he is to be put into the Nemesis Program and they intend to re-open the Hive. Alice attempts to fight them off, but is knocked unconscious.
Some time later, Alice awakens at the Raccoon City Hospital strapped to an examination table, with no memory of what happened since her capture. After escaping, she goes outside to find Raccoon City abandoned. A newspaper clipping shows that the T-virus spread to the surface after Umbrella reopened the Hive, creating an army of undead that devastated the city. Alice arms herself with a shotgun from an abandoned police car.
Connections to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland
Main character's name is Alice. - Computer is named 'Red Queen'. - 'The Red Queen' needs to kill someone who is infected, so she tries to get someone else to chop off their head. (Off with her head!) - Alice in Wonderland paperweight. - A white rabbit was use to test the T-virus. - To enter the hive they go through a mirrored door (through the looking glass). - The Red Queen also succeeds in cutting off "her" head - the medic in the laser hallway. - Kaplan worries about time, as the White Rabbit does. (Mentioned in commentary) - Matt is sitting on the ledge when Rain and JD hear the first zombie. This is mentioned in the commentary as a reference to the Caterpillar.
- In the movie, Alice's fake husband is named Spencer. This is a reference to the first game which took place in a mansion named the Spencer Estate. Also, one of the three founders of Umbrella Corporation in the game series is named Ozwell Spencer.
- The crew had a hard time dealing with the dogs who kept licking the blood and meat off themselves.
- After returning to the laser hallway they find the bodies have vanished. This is a direct reference to the games, in which the bodies will vanish if you leave and reenter an area. Kaplan's lines draw attention to this.
- Michelle Rodriguez had informed her agent that if anyone ever wrote a script about Resident Evil that she wanted to be a part of it. Her agent duly put her in contact with Paul W.S. Anderson when his screenplay was bought.
- All the minor cuts and bruises on Milla Jovovich's character are real. No make-up was applied.
- During the shooting of the sewer scenes, Milla Jovovich right-hooked Paul W.S. Anderson in the face, giving him a big black eye. By the end she hurt about three cast and crew members.