Published on October 20th, 2019 | by Curtis Mayfield
Zombieland: Double Tap – Film Review
Reviewed by Curtis Mayfield M-H on the 20th of October 2019
Sony Pictures presents a film by Ruben Fleischer
Written by Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and Dave Callaham
Produced by Gavin Polone
Starring: Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Abigail Breslin, and Zoey Deutch
Music by David Sardy
Cinematography: Chung Chung-Ho
Edited by Dirk Westervelt
Running Time: 93 minutes
Release Date: the 17th of October 2019
Zombieland (2009) was never ‘patient zero’ for the phenomenon of zombies on screen. However, it introduced Gen Y to flesh-eating creatures. Soon after, epics, such as The Walking Dead (2010) series, became commercial and cultural hits. What separated Zombieland from the rest of the genre though was its fun, relaxed version of the undead apocalypse where every character consistently wore clean clothes and flawless makeup. Not to mention the unlimited supply of ammunition, electricity and witty quips, which were all impossibilities addressed by the meta characters.
Fast forward ten years later and fans are chomping at the bit to see our heroes return in the sequel Zombieland: Double Tap. There’s Woody Harrelson as the trigger-happy cowboy, Tallahasse, Jessie Eisenberg as the geek chic, Columbus, Emma Stone as the unimpressed Wichita, and Abigail Breslin as her little sister, Little Rock, who is now not so little.
Double Tap follows the rule that the original world must be expanded in the sequel. It is an idea fulfilled by the introduction of new zombies. Like Columbus’ rules of survival in the original, his narration introduces the new types of flesh eaters. There is your everyday, run-of-the-mill dead head, affectionately dubbed the Homer (as in Simpson). It is slow, useless, and non-threatening. Then there are the upgraded ghouls, who, like our main characters, have learnt to hunt and survive. The ‘ninja zombie’ is briskly introduced in the first few minutes but then quickly discarded, which is a real head scratcher. The main adversaries are the T-800s. They are rightfully named after the Terminator because they are tough relentless bastards and take more than a few bullets before dropping.
These enemies do not deter the rag tag team of heroes from blissfully undertaking their new lives. After setting up shop in the White House, domestic bliss is on the cards for this fearless foursome. Tallahasse puts his feet up on the Oval Office desk while trying to be a father figure to Little Rock. Columbus and Wichita settle into couple’s heaven in the Lincoln bedroom. However, once Columbus proposes to Wichita and Tallahasse brings too much tough love to the table for Little Rock, the girls split and leave the men dumb founded and heart broken.
Rummaging through a local shopping plaza a month later, Tallahasse and Columbus encounter Madison (a scene stealing performance from Zoey Deutch). She is a ditzy, squeaky-voiced blonde valley girl who could be mistaken for a Hilary Duff clone. The bimbo jokes run thin but Deutch’s grounded version of the character heightens the movie. Columbus and Madison soon hook up while Tallahasse disapproves from the sidelines. Wichita’s return drives the plot. She recruits the others to help find Little Rock who has run off with the hilarious douche Berkley (Avan Jogia). He is a faux hippy who convinces Little Rock that the Bob Dylan and Bob Marley covers he plays on acoustic guitar are his own creations.
A road trip to the overgrown Grace Land sees Tallahasse fall for its owner, an always-great Rosario Dawson as Nevada, an Elvis fanatic. Enter a bizarro world version of Tallahasse and Columbus with Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch and the conflict and comedic sparks fly. Harrelson and Wilson start a pissing contest about who has the better car while Eisenberg and Middleditch try to out nerd each other about who has the better set of rules.
While Double Tap dutifully retreads the original’s formula, the new characters are examples of how it expands its universe. Meanwhile, the plentiful zombie kills and adult-rated banter between the characters also keep things interesting. Woody Harrelson is having the most fun, but it is hard to tell if Emma Stone is playing bored as her character or if her mind is elsewhere (she is possibly considering moving her La La Land Oscar from the den to the home office).
It’s unfortunate that director Ruben Fleischer (Venom, Gangster Squad) didn’t go full throttle with part two. Instead, he has chosen to keep a steady foot on the gas. The film’s saving grace is the loose and fast comedy style by screenwriters Paul Wernick, Rhett Reese (Deadpool, Zombieland) and Dave Callaham (Godzilla, The Expendables). Consequently, Zombieland: Double Tap may not be a deadly headshot but despite some messy choices it still manages to hit the mark.
Summary: Zombieland: Double Tap may not be a deadly headshot but despite some messy choices it still manages to hit the mark.