Zombieland: Double Tap – Film Review
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone
by Roger Crow / @Roger Crow
I can’t say I was desperate for a Zombieland sequel. Was anybody, especially after a decade?
For newcomers, the first one was a fun horror comedy which hit the ground running. It gave us assorted rules on how to survive after a zombie apocalypse, and aside from a great turn from Jesse Eisenberg as the young hero Columbus, and Woody Harrelson as his gun-toting mentor Tallahassee, there was superstar-in-waiting Emma Stone as Wichita, one of two sisters they pick up along the way. (Abigail Breslin played her sibling, Little Rock). There was also a blissfully funny cameo from Bill Murray as himself, and some fun action scenes.
A decade later, and having spent far too long fighting zombies in absurdly addictive game They Are Billions, I need a break from button-bashing.
“Better than the original”
Now I’m of an age where if a film doesn’t grab me in the first 10 minutes, as long as I’m not reviewing it, I turn it off. So late one Saturday night I think I‘ll watch five minutes and go to bed. Thankfully Zombieland: Double Tap is that rarest of things: better than the original.
In the years since films one and two, obviously a lot has happened, and Columbus fills us in on the blank spaces. He and Wichita are now a couple, but while this quartet are living it up at the White House, Little Rock wants to go off exploring. So she and Wichita vanish one night, and Columbus is left heartbroken. At least until the guys happen upon Madison (a scene-stealing Zoey Deutch), an adorable but not too bright valley girl in the mall. And when they return to Pennsylvania Avenue, there’s an awkward moment as estranged lovers are reunited.
When Little Rock goes missing while on the road, Columbus, Tallahassee, Wichita and Madison go off in search.
Though many films have been dubbed horror action comedies over the years, few have been that scary, funny or exciting. Thankfully this is all three, with one laugh-out-loud moment in a minivan that had me giggling long after the heroes had moved on.
When our team meets (the wonderful) Rosario Dawson’s Nevada near Graceland, another perfect addition to the mix, things get even better. And while the addition of a couple of very similar new arrivals is reminiscent of that fleeting scene in Shaun of the Dead when all the heroes bump into their own similar characters, this is far less throwaway.
There’s a sub plot involving advanced zombies which are harder to kill, like Terminators, but those apex predators don’t dominate the story.
So a faster, funnier and more thrilling adventure than we had any right to experience, and with a mid-credits scene involving a familiar face that keeps the laughs coming, don’t turn off too early.