ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP

I hate zombies. Not personally. I’ve never met one. But as a story element or genre, I have little fondness for them, be they fast or slow. Even now, having just passed through a kind of zombie pop culture renaissance, I think I can count the zombie films I like on one hand. So please keep that in mind as I review ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP.

However, I will also add that I genuinely don’t think my zombie distaste colored my option on this film. ZOMBIELAND was only a little about zombies and DOUBLE TAP is even less interested and/or concerned about the brain chompers.

And what is my opinion, you may now be wondering? Well let’s get into it.

(And if you want to know if there are mid or end credit sequences, we have you covered on that too.)

Zombieland Double Tap: Little Rock
Abigail Breslin graduates from child to adult actor with a huge gun in ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP. (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

The Idea Behind ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP

Ten years have passed in our world between ZOMBIELAND and ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP. In the world of the films, some time has passed as well but it is a bit unclear how much. Certainly Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) has gotten older, but a cake seems to suggest that she has recently turned 18. This would point to about half as long passing in Z world than ours. This is not actually important, but probably speaks to a certain…lack of intensity in the proceedings that allows the viewer time to ponder these descriptions.

Little Rock, along with her sister Wichita (Emma Stone) and their unlikely partners Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) and Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) have survived however long it has been. To keep busy, they seized control of the White House and have been calling it home for some time. When Columbus decides to propose marriage to Wichita, however, he upsets the status quo, sending Wichita and Little Rock back onto the road.

The split leads to new travel companions. Berkeley (Avan Jogia), a pacifist musician gives Little Rock her first chance at age appropriate romance and marijuana use. Madison (Zoey Deutch), a bubbly pink-loving woman who survived by hanging out in a mall freezer. Her desire for human contact results in her becoming Columbus’s rebound girlfriend.

Along the way, the divided groups also encounter the Elvis-adoring Nevada (Rosario Dawson), Columbus and Tallahassee doppelgangers Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), and a pacifist collection of survivors living and relaxing in a walled city Babylon.

Oh and a new kind of zombies. The movie barely cares about them.

Double Tap: Albuquerque and Tallahassee
Luke Wilson and Woody Harrelson do not meet cute in this scene from DOUBLE TAP. (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

Writing ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP

Promotional materials have made a huge deal of the writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese and their role in writing the DEADPOOL films. Oddly, they make no mention of the fact that the duo wrote the original ZOMBIELAND as well. Also worth noting that saying DOUBLE TAP is from the writers of DEADPOOL 2 ignores the reality that the duo is actually a trio. Dave Callaham, the writer-creator of THE EXPENDABLES, also receives a screenplay credit here.

It feels weird to stress the DEADPOOL connection also because DOUBLE TAP is a, shall we say, far less energetic kind of comedy. In fact, it feels downright somnambulist at times. The jokes are definitely less frequent and less laugh out loud than either DEADPOOL film or Wernick and Reese’s ZOMBIELAND script.

More importantly, the film itself is pretty flabby. They know the people that loved ZOMBIELAND want to revisit the quartet at its center. So they seem content to just give viewers that. It’s a hangout film with little sense of expediency. Even at the story’s climax, even when the narration seems to be pointing to some kind of tragedy, nothing about the movie makes you believe there is any kind of real danger. And not to be too spoiler-y, but you are right not to believe it.

Considering this though, it is fascinating how disinterested the script feels about its characters. As a hangout film, DOUBLE TAP is remarkably thin on memorable interpersonal moments.

Zombieland Double Tap: Madison
Zoey Deutch keeps it upbeat in pink throughout ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP. (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

Casting the Leads of ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP

Look, if you liked the first movie, you’ll enjoy spending time with these characters again. That said, as alluded to above, there just is not much for them or us to sink our teeth into (pun was not intended but screw it, I’m embracing it!). If I got a hold of the script and it just said stuff like, “Jesse, be Columbus-y. You know, like in the first movie,” and that was it, it would not surprise me one iota.

So, ultimately, it is nice to see them again. However, it is nice in that way of seeing an old friend for a 6-minute conversation. Sure, it feels good to run into them. It is not the kind of experience you actually get anything out of though.

Zombieland Double Tap: Tallahassee and Nevada
Woody Harrelson and Rosario Dawson enjoy some downtime during a scene from DOUBLE TAP. (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

Casting the Rest of the Callsheet

The new cast members are pretty uniformly undercut by the somewhat lackadaisical scripting as well. Middleditch and Wilson are fun as the same but different versions of Eisenberg and Harrelson, respectively, but the steam runs rapidly out of the gag. It’s a cute device but there’s not depth to it.

Berkeley and everyone else at Babylon exist mostly to be mocked. In ZOMBIELAND, the quartet are right and nearly everyone else is just dumb is the clear implication.

Only Deutch’s effervescent, intellectually shallow Madison delivers a kick, thanks mostly to that performer’s refusal to take the underwritten part lying down. The character is a hundred clichés but Deutch goes into them with 100 percent commitment. As a result, she is the most memorable aspect of DOUBLE TAP.

Directing ZOMBIELAND DOUBLE TAP

I did not like VENOM, somewhat famously. However, I did not think Ruben Fleischer’s direction, save for how he handled the CGI goo slugfest, was the problem. Here though…

To be fair, Fleischer’s work is not bad here. However, like the rest of the movie, it feels empty. There is no visual zing. Everything is easy to watch and has good sense of layout but it is unenergetic. Even when Tallahassee and Columbus crash about an Elvis museum trying to kill pair of the T-800 zombies — those new types I mentioned above — there is little that gets the blood pumping.

End of the Road Image
Zoey Deutch, Emma Stone, Jesse Eisenberg, and Woody Harrelson keep on trucking down that lonely road. (Courtesy of Columbia Pictures)

That’s a Wrap!

I didn’t hate DOUBLE TAP. It is not bad. It is, however, just…there. When we did fine without a sequel for a decade, a sequel should be at least a bit special to justify itself. This one does not bother. That was the biggest sensation I had when I left the theatre. Nice to be back with those characters but boy it would have been nice if anyone felt like they needed to bring some effort to the proceedings.

 

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