Directed by Henry Hobson.
Starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, Abigail Breslin and Joely Richardson.
A teenage girl in the Midwest becomes infected by an outbreak of a disease that slowly turns the infected into cannibalistic zombies. During her transformation, her loving father stays by her side.
Watching a loved one suffer knowing that there is absolutely no way you can help is one of the most gut-wrenching and emotionally exhausting feelings in life. Equally as painful might be the recipient of the sickness aware of how much an agonizing toll the experience takes on the worrier. For better or worse this is the dynamic that Maggie explores for roughly 90 minutes. This isn’t The Walking Dead, but rather a subtle, more dramatic take on the zombie pandemic that has taken pop-culture by storm.
Filling out the two lead roles are Abigail Breslin portraying an infected daughter with an estimated eight weeks before the zombification is complete, with Arnold Schwarzenegger taking on the role of the protective father hellbent on staying with her until the end. It goes without saying that this is an uncharacteristic performance from Schwarzenegger (obviously known for macho action films) but that doesn’t mean he is incapable of delivering a serviceable dramatic performance.
In a smart move Schwarzenegger isn’t given very many lines, and mostly relies on facial expressions and body language to convey his inner pain. There is a sense that this is a man with some truly heavy thoughts on his mind, like if he can take his daughter’s life when it’s time, how he should spend their limited time together, and if he can continue to keep her free from a quarantine zone, which isn’t really a quarantine zone but rather warehouses where zombies feast on the transitioning infected. There is also mention of a very painful substance that gives the members a slow but safe and sure death.
As previously mentioned, Maggie is a character study of both father and daughter, and how they are each tortured mentally, and in Maggie‘s case, also physically. It’s an in-depth look at the emotional hell that comes from dreading the inevitable, and while that might not make for a necessarily entertaining movie, Maggie is a beautifully depressing film that really has no intentions on copping out for a happy ending. Abigail Breslin also does a wonderful job selling the emotional pain she is being put through, whether it be the sadness in her eyes or the disgusting spreading of the infection all over her body.
Unfortunately, the movie never really hit its stride. In a movie this morbid it should be a given that the ending will be the equivalent to having your heart ripped out and shredded into pieces, but everything just comes and goes. It’s easy to care about these characters, but never to a point that propels the melodrama into the upper echelon of tragically depressing outbreak stories. For some perspective, both The Walking Dead episodic video game series and The Last of Us moved me to tears. Meanwhile Maggie doesn’t come close even with great acting and competent direction
There are also some supporting characters that don’t get enough exposition or development such as Schwarzenegger’s second wife. Equally thin are the sheriffs of the Midwestern town, where one is clearly sympathetic while the other feels anyone infected should be immediately quarantined. Also, while the dialogue is mostly spot on there is a quick scene were Schwarzenegger attempts to have a conversation with a zombie, which is all sorts of unintentionally hilarious.
Maggie works for the most part, it’s just that the competition in its genre from both film and gaming is currently so strong that it’s tough for this to leave much of a lasting impression. It’s an enjoyable piece of melodrama that’s worth watching once, with the real revelation being that Arnold Schwarzenegger can dial in a great subdued and restrained serious performance.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★
Robert Kojder – An aficionado of film, wrestling, and gaming. Follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook