‘Zombieland 2’ a welcome addition to the party
Color me surprised. Released in 2009, “Zombieland” was an amusing riff on the zombie genre. It was a lively mixture of humor and brain-splattering action released at the peak of the genre’s craze. It was witty, cute and certainly gave a nice career bump to many of its leads, such as Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin.
That said, it seemed to wrap nicely, and I had no longing to spend more time with the characters or reflect on what their lives were like post-zombie apocalypse.
When it was mentioned that the filmmakers were reuniting the leads and the original crew, the news was met with a shrug. And while there is not a lot new added to the equation for “Zombieland: Double Tap,” it still manages to get more mileage out of its formula, with a couple of secret weapons in store.
The film takes place 10 years after its 2009 predecessor. Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg), Wichita (Stone) and Little Rock (Breslin) are still honing their skills at capping zombies and have even learned to identify the different “species” of them. This includes a new mutant strain of zombies who are not only faster, but able to withstand a number of blows before finally going down.
The gang finds temporary respite in the now shelled-out White House, where they eke out some semblance of family life. But Little Rock, having just turned 18, is anxious to connect with others closer to her own age. She enlists the help of Wichita, and the two set out to wander the barren countryside, leaving only a note for the fellas, making Columbus heartbroken since he just recently stated his intentions to marry Wichita.
There is little writers Dave Callaham and Rhett Reese change from the original formula, and as you dig deeper into what they’ve created, it’s likely you’ll find more holes than in a bullet-ridden zombie corpse. That said, they realize the first film’s charm, its stars’ chemistry and, as with Reese’s “Deadpool 2,” give you another healthy serving of what you enjoyed a decade ago.
There are cameos peppered throughout, some more welcome than others (it’s always good to see Rosario Dawson take control in any film, but the fewer minutes given to Thomas Middleditch, the better). “Double Tap’s” secret weapon, though, is Zoey Deutch. Like Samara Weaving in this summer’s “Ready or Not,” prepare to hear her name mentioned quite a bit after “Double Tap.”
She plays the ever-bubbly Madison, who has staved off becoming zombie food by hiding inside a walk-in freezer at mall Pinkberry for the better part of a decade. Deutch steals each and every scene she’s in and is the perfect candy-coated counterbalance to Stone’s tight-jawed ass-kicker.
“Zombieland: Double Tap” may be arriving late to the zombie party, but that doesn’t mean it’s not welcome. Like the new zombie species it identifies, the film moves fast and with single purpose, and by sticking to the basics with a few fresh, welcome faces, it still has bite.
As a side note, do yourself a favor and stay right after the credits start to roll, as there is a fairly lengthy scene that resurrects one of the original’s most beloved cameos and puts a riotous coda on the affair.