The Milla Jovovich and Paul W.S. Anderson Resident Evil films have been the longest-running and most financially successful video game movies, with the 16-year franchise surpassing $1.23B at the box office. However, a new lawsuit from a stunt performer from the latest entry says that these relatively inexpensive films didn't invest in safety — which has had a devastating impact on her life and those of others.
The filing by stuntwoman Olivia Jackson in Los Angeles County’s Superior Court finds the stuntwoman suing Anderson, Bolt Pictures, Tannhauser Gate, and Jeremy Bolt for breach of contract and misrepresentation, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Jackson, who has been the stunt performer for Charlize Theron in Mad Max: Fury Road and Elizabeth Olsen in Avengers: Age of Ultron, was one of Jovovich's doubles during Resident Evil: The Final Chapter. She claims in her suit that the producers of these lucrative films “repeatedly failed to adhere to basic safety practices, imperiling the lives of the cast and crew.”
On Sept. 5 of 2015, the production was shooting a motorcycle scene after a “last-minute change” from a fight scene. This asked Jackson to drive a motorcycle directly at the camera as the camera, attached to a vehicle by a crane, was driven towards her. The crane was meant to lift the camera over Jackson’s head. It didn’t. The complaint claims that “adverse weather conditions” were just one part of what caused the crash. She claims haphazard planning, like the decisions to change out for a longer camera lens and lift the crane “one beat later” than the rehearsal run, led to Jackson’s collision with the crane that sliced “through the bone of her forearm” and tore “the flesh off her cheek, leaving her teeth exposed.”
The lawsuit goes into exacting detail about the spinal injuries Jackson suffered, which required her to be placed into a coma. Her left arm required amputation above the elbow. While the lawsuit says that production told her that they would obtain insurance able to cover any and all injuries that she might sustain during production, she says she later found that it only amounted to $33,000. The suit claims there was no liability coverage and, for a now one-armed stuntwoman, she received a grand total of $992 for her loss of earnings from a stunt career cut short. The lawsuit also claims promises were made to Jackson’s husband in an alleged recording of Bolt and Anderson’s representative, who are quoted as saying that they’d cover Jackson’s medical expenses “all the way through,” “regardless of the insurance.”
The Final Chapter also suffered the loss of crewmember Ricardo Cornelius, who was crushed to death by a Humvee during an on-set accident in South Africa. The preceding film, Resident Evil: Retribution, saw the injury of 16 background actors who fell through a gap in a platform on set. This history of incidents on the franchise could possibly support Jackson’s claim as she seeks compensation — and may prevent further tragedies from taking place on these films.