A Familiar, But Enjoyable Outing
The family that fights zombies together stays together.
Although it doesn’t really do anything new or extraordinary, Zombieland: Double Tap manages to be a decent sequel and an enjoyable romp. The mix of quirky, self-aware humor and over-the-top violence that made the first film so refreshing, continues here. The comedy and amusing characters provide enough entertainment to make up for the fairly thin narrative.
Like the real-life gap between films, Zombieland: Double Tap takes place 10 years after its predecessor. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have adjusted to the zombie-infested world, but are dealing with interpersonal troubles. Little Rock flees the group – to the hippie commune, “Babylon” – because of Tallahassee’s overbearingness. Subsequently, the gang ventures through Zombieland to find her, and the usual comedic carnage ensures.
With years of experience, it’s fun seeing the team navigate the world so confidently while killing zombies in style (all while following Columbus’ infamous rules of course). The bloody and frivolous action was pretty solid for the most part. There’s a great long-take shot where our main gang fights two zombies in a house as we move through various rooms and fight pairings. I’m always a sucker for a good long-take, and this was one of the more memorable scenes of the movie. Though, it’s a bit of a shame that the “super-zombies” introduced don’t get to be as imposing or inventive as they could have been. They’re simply just zombies that are slightly harder to kill.
What really holds the film together is the interplay of the cast, and Woody Harrelson seems to be having the time of his life in this role. Like before, the comedy is definitely the movie’s strong suit. All the banter and bickering between characters is endlessly amusing. Unfortunately, we don’t get as much meaningful character interaction between the main four as the first movie. This one is a bit overstuffed with some hit-or-miss newcomers. Rosario Dawson is great as the Elvis-loving, badass zombie-killer, Nevada, but she’s underutilized. And Zoey Deutch’s ditzy and aloof, Madison, is equal parts aggravating and hilarious. Meanwhile, Avan Jogia, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch all have fun moments but don’t add a whole lot to the story.
The safe and simple plot just meanders through situations without much of a driving force. The peaceful, weaponless, commune of Babylon was a fun addition, but how the characters get there isn’t all that thrilling. Also, any attempt at character conflict – like Wichita and Columbus’ relationship squabbles – is haphazardly resolved by the end. Luckily, there are enough amusing zombie kills and hilarious exchanges for the movie to get by on. Even when the story and drama were lacking, at least Reuben Fleischer’s stylish, cheeky direction keeps viewers engaged.
Zombieland: Double Tap does a good job of capturing the irreverent humor and wackiness of the original, even if the story and character work weren’t as strong. There are enough laughs and stylized action to make this sequel worth the watch. If they do make another follow-up (which I’d be fully on board with), they better not wait another decade.