The Tragic Incident On The Resident Evil Set That Cost A Stuntwoman Her Arm

Stunt work is dangerous work, and stunt performers deserve all the credit in the world for the peril they intentionally put themselves through for our entertainment. It's utterly baffling that stunt performers still, at this late date, do not have an Academy Award devoted to their craft. Stunt performers fight, are hoisted by cables, jump off of buildings, set themselves on fire, crash cars, fall off of motorcycles, and tumble down stairs just to make an audience's heart beat a little bit faster. And while most stunts are constructed and choreographed with the utmost of care — assuring a maximum amount of damage done to a car with the minimum of damage done to the drivers' bodies — stunt performers still often sustain injuries in their line of work. 

And while one would think stunt performers are offered the best medical care and insurance coverage by the studios that hire them, not everything works out so well. In the case of Paul W.S. Anderson's 2016 film "Resident Evil: The Final Chapter" — the sixth film in a series adapted from a popular video game franchise — a stunt performer was not only grievously injured, but had a great deal of trouble being supported by the production while she was in the hospital. The stunt performer in question is Olivia Jackson, and, thanks to a poorly timed camera movement, ended up crashing a motorcycle, injuring her face, and slicing the bone in her left arm. She would ultimately require an amputation. 

Olivia Jackson

"The Final Chapter" is a post-apocalypse zombie flick with a long and complicated mythology, mostly centering on fighting zombies and corporate mercenaries. Jackson, a stunt performer from South Africa, served as the double for Milla Jovovich's character Alice. She described the stunt in a 2019 article in the Hollywood Reporter. On the date in question, Jackson had been assigned a fight scene, but was asked to change stunts at the last minute, performing what she described as a "dangerous and technically complex motorcycle scene in adverse weather." The stunt involved Jackson riding a motorcycle at top speed directly at a camera attached to a crane. The camera was meant to lift out of the way just as Jackson zoomed by. 

It didn't.

Jackson collided head-on with the camera. Her injuries were severe. According to a complaint, Jackson's collision saw the camera "slicing through the bone of her forearm and tearing the flesh off her cheek, leaving her teeth exposed cutting her face." She also suffered several spinal fractures and some brain bleeding. She was rushed to the hospital and put into a medically induced 17-day coma wherein they amputated her left arm. 

Jackson's complaint also includes how she had been given bad information from the film's production staff, who had evidently told her that any injuries sustained while performing would be covered by the film's insurance. Jackson learned later that this was a lie, and that she was not covered by the production's liability. She only received $33,000 to cover hospital bills. Jackson's husband was also lied to, as when Jackson was in a coma, he was also told that the production would pay for all damages and rehabilitation. It didn't.

The case

Jackson sued the studio for the injury and for failing to pay all her medical bills. The case was against Bolt Pictures, its two executives Tannhauser Gate and Jeremy Bolt, as well as director Paul W.S. Anderson. It evebntually came out that Anderson had conspired to change the camera angle ever so slightly in between the rehearsal and the actual shot, leading to an unexpected camera movement and causing Jackson's injury. 

Jackson said her career was ruined, and her planned gig on "Wonder Woman" had to be canceled. She had already worked stunts in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Mad Max: Fury Road," and "Resident Evil" was something she booked in-between other gigs. In 2020, The Hollywood Reporter reported that Jackson had won her case in South African court — "The Final Chapter" was shot in Cape Town — and was paid an undisclosed amount in damages. The case in American court had been dismissed the previous November.

Jackson was not the only accident victim on the set of "The Final Chapter" either. The film's set was also the site of an additional incident which took the life of Ricardo Cornelius, one of the film's crew. In that incident, an army-issue Hummer tipped over and fell on Cornelius, crushing him. He was rushed to the hospital, where he died. Cornelius' widow has said that the production adequately discussed compensation, but were frustratingly coy when it came to the circumstances of her husband's accident. 

The "Resident Evil" franchise would continue with the reboot "Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City." Anderson would go on to direct the 2020 video game adaptation "Monster Hunter." Stunt performers still don't get the credit and compensation they deserve.