Zombieland: Double Tap, 2019.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer.
Starring Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Rosario Dawson, Zoey Deutch, Avan Jogia, Thomas Middleditch, Bill Murray, Luke Wilson, Al Roker, and Grace Randolph.
Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita, and Little Rock return to face off against a new zombie threat, as well as deal with how 10 years together has impacted their family.
After 10 years, the Zombieland team reunite for more crazy zombie-killing in a light parody of the genre. Zombieland: Double Tap doesn’t reinvent the wheel in this franchise, utilizing the same type of humour, style and story that made the first film popular. Its lack of originality doesn’t put too much of a damper though as the cast of Eisenberg, Stone, Harrelson and Breslin make it pretty entertaining alongside some memorable newcomers and action sequences.
Even though it is a decade later, the four core cast members slip back into their roles with ease. The dynamic between Eisenberg and Stone is fairly strong throughout the film now that Columbus and Wichita are officially a couple, giving us a new side to their characters and relationship as Columbus wants to take the next step while Wichita isn’t so sure. Eisenberg and Stone play well off each other and have a good rapport while Abigail Breslin’s Little Rock is almost an entirely new character given her growth in the intervening decade. She gets some time to make her own mark as Little Rock leaves the group to find people around her own age, but she’s stronger with her familiar cast than she is with some of the new folk. Out of the four, Harrelson doesn’t strive to do anything too different as Tallahassee, being the same boisterous zombie-killer he was before. In fact, with the exception of Rock the characters are largely the same, but Double Tap does attempt to push them in slightly newer directions throughout the film, though Breslin and Stone don’t have as much to do compared with Eisenberg and Harrelson.
Picking up the slack of the original cast are some new faces. Rosario Dawson is good as Nevada, a fellow gun-toting, whiskey-drinking Elvis lover who shares some common traits with Tallahassee. Though the scene stealer is Zoey Deutch as Madison, a bubbly and somewhat inept survivor who tags along with their journey and annoys nearly everyone with her air-headed personality. Deutch displays some great comedic timing with her delivery in a role that could have come off as extremely annoying, but she leans into it and makes Madison one of the most memorable aspects in the sequel. She and Eisenberg work well together and though they don’t share much time together, her and Stone also have nice chemistry as Wichita mimics Madison’s high voice and way of speaking at times. Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch are also memorable in what is more like extended cameos than supporting roles, though the joke they are mirror copies of Tallahassee and Columbus goes on for a little too long.
Even as the film pushes the characters in new directions, it doesn’t take many big risks. At one point a character states “That is so 2009” and that is a perfectly apt expression for the sequel. It largely has the same format as Zombieland, right down to some story beats. The fact Zombieland: Double Tap doesn’t do anything too different is both a positive and negative as it remains consistent with the original, but feels a bit dated and doesn’t do anything to separate it from the first film or other zombie television shows or films that have come since, even if it does take some shots at those. Though the inclusion of different types of zombies is welcome (along with the humourous nicknames the group gives them), they are not enough to differentiate Double Tap from the genre.
What does help it apart from the cast are the action sequences throughout the film. Ruben Fleischer directs some pretty solid and entertaining set pieces, including a well filmed tracking shot done in one take throughout a house where it follows multiple people. Some of the zombie-kills are also upped in brutal, and sometimes hilarious, fashion (just wait for one particular Zombie Kill of the Year) while the climax offers an exciting scenario that challenges the characters due to Fleischer’s approach. The cinematography is great with its clean action and vibrant colours, retaining the first’s visual style though the constant pop-ups of Columbus’ rules gets distracting and tired towards the end.
Zombieland: Double Tap is a nice return for Fleischer and the core cast. Their chemistry works just as well as it did 10 years ago, but it’s a bit of a shame Breslin is separated from the group for so long and that she and Stone aren’t given more to work with. Zoey Deutch is a highlight among the newcomers while the action is very funny and entertaining. The sequel doesn’t strive to be any more that it is, which does harm it as it copies a few story beats and isn’t as fresh as it could given the growth of the genre since the original’s release. It is still worth viewing for the cast and some good laughs, but anyone hoping for more may be a bit disappointed.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Ricky Church – Follow me on Twitter for more movie news and nerd talk.