Zombieland: Double Tap isn’t as fresh as the original movie was 10 years ago mainly because there has been a whole lot of zombie related entertainment since then, a fact the sequel’s opening narration amusingly admits that and thanks the audience for choosing this one. The characters haven’t changed at all but there is an argument to be made that a zombie apocalypse would probably stunt people’s emotional growth. While not as invigorating as before, the cast chemistry is still fantastic, the zombie splatter is great, and Double Tap is consistently hilarious.
A decade after zombies took over the Earth, only a few humans remain, and one intrepid makeshift family unit has become quite good at taking out the walking dead; Columbus (Jessie Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). When Columbus proposes to Wichita she hits the road with her sister, and then Wichita is ditched by her sister who runs off with a hippie musician, Berkley (Avan Jogia). Wichita returns to ask for their help but surprisingly the guys have acquired a new member of the group, the very dippy Madison (Zoey Deutch). The crew goes searching for Little Rock but they run into even more dangerous evolved zombies who may stop the never–ending road trip in its tracks.
The evolution of the zombies is an interesting quirk. There’s a fun introductory scene where Columbus explains the different types of zombies with him talking about a “Ninja” zombie which has jump scare potential but that zombie version never really shows up beyond the intro. The scene when the characters encounter a super–zombie they nickname the T–800 is legitimately great as Tallahassee unloads an incredible amount of ammo but it keeps coming. However, after setting up a potentially game–changing zombie threat, they’re soon reduced to the same zombie horde as before which is bit of a letdown. There are still some good bits, like one scene where the crew has a messy fight with two super–zombies instead of nonchalantly bumping them off.
For all the zombie chaos Zombieland: Double Tap is really kind of a hang out comedy movie as a considerable chunk is just characters making quips. The cast chemistry is so great that it makes the stuff in between the zombie smashing really fun. This specific group of actors is key, as evidenced by the failed Zombieland Amazon TV pilot in 2013 which recast all the leads and was obviously terrible. What’s fun is seeing these specific actors put extra oomph making small interactions fun. It’s a shame that Little Rock is punted off on a side quest because it takes one of them out of the mix, however the random scenes with Little Rock and the hippie musician are great. Tallahassee especially hates the hippie commune Berkley took Little Rock to and the crew is aghast that to gain entry they must melt their weapons, which creates an interesting conundrum when the zombie horde shows up. Sure, a mass zombie horde attracted by noise climatic battle is pretty much exactly what happened in the first movie but there’s a lot of dopey people in Zombieland.
While it would be cliché to have Wichita be jealous of Columbus hooking up with Madison in her brief absence, her reaction to Madison is more bemusement that Columbus is now stuck with her. When Madison brings her gaggle of fake fur pink luggage on a trip, Wichita just asks sarcastically “Are we dropping her off at a no–kill shelter?” Madison is a character that either is hilarious or annoying with little in between. She is totally one note but Deutch hits that one note perfectly with variations of stupid. There is a surprisingly dramatic scene with Columbus and Madison about halfway through that works quite well, however later it’s undercut by plot twists.
Other new additions are Rosario Dawson who seems to be only there for Tallahassee to have a brief romantic fling but Dawson is such a good actress she makes it pop. They run into two characters, Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), who are almost exactly like Tallahassee and Columbus and Wichita’s incredulous response is great. Flagstaff and Columbus have a long exchange about Columbus’ “Rules” vs Flagstaffs “Commandments” that is hilariously nitpicky.
Returning director Ruben Fleischer and co–writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick (along with new co–writer Dave Callaham) capture the spirit of the original and put in some fun new spins. Like the original, it opens with Metallica music over slow motion zombie mayhem but instead of zombies attacking people like in the first film, here it’s the crew wrecking zombies. The camera moves a lot with some very cool shots like a great the one-shot action scene fighting two super–zombies. A famous cameo from the first film returns in a mid-credits stinger in Double Tap that is worth sticking around for.
Zombieland: Double Tap is checking in on a family after a long absence. All they’ve really been doing is zombie killing for a decade but they’re still the same people. It’d be great if the series keeps up a once–a–decade installment to make it the zombie slaying version of Before Midnight. But right now, it’s just fun to see them all again together. V
ZOMBIELAND: DOUBLE TAP
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Woody Harrelson,
Jesse Eisenberg and