Ten years have passed since America’s answer to Shaun of the Dead blew up the scene with the gun-toting stately named zom-com Zombieland. Its charming cast and less charming characters gave us the memorable delivery of enjoyable quips with its version of the “everyman” zomb-pocalypse story. Ten years later, after Warm Bodies, Cooties, Life After Beth, and Anna and the Apocalypse, we have been forced to ask, do we need a sequel to Zombieland?
Though it didn’t strike while the iron was hot, nor did it wait long enough to capitalize on nostalgia, Zombieland: Double Tap is here, and you know what? It’s great.
Ten years or so after the events of the first film, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), and Wichita (Emma Stone) are holed up in the White House living their quiet post-apocalyptic lives, until a panicked Wichita, spooked by a proposal, takes Little Rock back on the road. Not long after, losing Little Rock to a boy with a guitar, Wichita comes back to the home of the oval office looking for weapons and her crew to go get her sister back. Hitting the road with their new scrappy stray, Madison (Zoey Deutch), the gang sets off on a new adventure to Graceland and ultimately, Babylon, to rescue Little Rock from the throes of a pacifist.
What could have been a flat sequel to a forgettable flick, overstuffed with self-referential humour and celebrity friend cameos, ended up an insanely fun blast. This worthy second installment is surprisingly enjoyable and really sells that these characters have been living in a timeline split from our own, and have grown and changed in a world starkly different from ours. That said, this doesn’t give the excuse it might be looking for to justify the film’s sensibilities and stretches of jokes. The idea of the “stupid” character accidentally inventing Uber while the others write the idea off is somewhat of a way to joke with audiences while reminding us of the difference in our settings, but it’s not the most brilliant or original quip and only earns a “ha.” What’s worse is that the characters have certainly not graduated from 2009 sensibilities and can barely survive a scene change without a misogynistic joke.
Lots of deserved attention has been handed to Zoey Deutch for her hilarious performance as Madison, the ditzy blonde with a heart of bleach and Juicy Couture, but the show stealer for me was Woody Harrelson. Deutch absolutely does the most with what she is given, a tired one-dimensional trope of the silly easy gal who serves as a hiccup in the Wichita/ Columbus love story. Woody remains his hilarious self and his unadulterated rage at a hipster musician type taking his surrogate daughter lands every time.
It’s impossible to ignore the well-shot action, which is the best part of the movie. It is so incredibly choreographed, using over-the-top tracking shots and having piles of characters engaged in battles, allowing some of us to conceptualize what it must have been like to choreograph, stage, and shoot it, while others can sit back and enjoy some of the best zombie fights ever put to screen.
Though the film ultimately doesn’t rise above sexist quips and dated uses of women as trophies, it is an otherwise enjoyable ride from one end of the country to the other. It tackles themes like family, love, grief, and fatherhood while laying down a bloodbath that makes it a perfect midnighter. It kicks dicks.
Movie Score: 3.5/5