Zombieland: Double Tap
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writers: Rhett Reese, Paul Wenick, Dave Callaham
Staring: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, Thomas Middleditch
Release Date: October 18, 2019

Operation “Catch Up On Movies I Haven’t Seen Yet” during quarantine notched another accomplishment last night. Finally got to sink my teeth in Zombieland: Double Tap, the long awaited sequel to the 2009 comedy-horror hit. Luckily, ten years later, the entire original gang is back with some new crew members maneuvering their way in.

Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have domesticated themselves in the White House and are living in relative bliss. The world they live in is still overrun with zombies, but unease from Wichita and Little Rock leads to a separation of the quartet. From there the plot unfolds under classic search and rescue tropes with doses of a comedic love triangle, doppelganger self realized humor and zombie evolution.

Zombieland: Double Tap is an ultimately unnecessary but entertaining sequel that starts out flourishing in the resonance of the first but flounders toward the end with more spectacle than substance. The comedy and vibe are the same as it’s predecessor, but the story speeds up as it nears the finish and takes away from personalities of the characters that make the movie most enjoyable.

The tone Zombieland: Double Tap is set right right from the get-go. In the opening credits, the original group slay zombies in slow motion to the pulsating beats of Mettalica’s “Master Of Puppets”; I mean talk about a away to get the audience engaged.

When Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock are bantering, that is when the movie is at its best. Harrelson is having so much fun being Tallahassee, the violence-loving asshole that he is. When the crew is broken up, the chemistry on screens suffers, but much credit has to go to the newly inserted minor characters.

Zoey Deutch gets the most screen time as Madison, a dim-witted pretty blond who loves the color pink. She appears just as Columbus is dealing with some personal heartache, but she has a unique ability to give everyone a headache with her annoying voice and elementary school education. Madison is meant to be this annoying foil to both Tallahassee and Wichita’s personality and Deutch plays it wonderfully. She has the pure ignorance is bliss personality from any teen high school movie and while it’s annoying at first, she becomes integral comedy in the end.

Three other big hitters entering the Zombieland world are Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch. Dawson plays Nevada, a femme fatal habituated in an Elvis Presley hotel. She and Tallahassee get along swimmingly because they both have a perpetuation to lean towards violence and an undying love the The King. Nevada is able to put Tallahassee on his heels, which he finds ultra appealing.

But the highlight of Zombieland: Double Tap is easily the doppelganger interaction between Tallahassee and Columbus, and Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch). The interactions between the two pairs is hilarious from start to finish.

Tallahassee and Albuquerque have a witty dick measuring competition after The Beast was destroyed by Albuquerque’s monster truck. Columbus has found his logical and organizational match with Flagstaff; the “better” version of himself has commandments while he only has rules. Columbus even admits that Flagstaff’s number one rule of “Teamwork” is better than his own, “Cardio.”

In an incredibly smart decision by the writers, the comedy these four share is short lived. Albuquerque and Flagstaff get bit by zombies while trying to show off in front of their new acquaintances. We get a battle of personalities pinned against themselves , one hungry for brains and the other for survival. The more happy and encouraging duo doesn’t spend a lot of time on screen, but their interaction with Tallahassee and Columbus is the highlight of Zombieland: Double Tap. Wilson and Middleditch gave their all in their few scenes, and makes for the funniest part of the entire movie.

While the comedy at the the Graceland adjacent hotel is spot on, there are some unfortunate misses. The “Zombie Kill Of The Year” gimmick had so much more potential, but just really didn’t amount to nothing in the end. There was even a truly random cutaway to Italy where some random dude gets the award from dropping the Leaning Tower of Pisa on three zombies. And the tower was able to be tipped over by a human operated tire jack? Then at the end they say Tallahassee gets the accolade for tricking all the zombies to fall, and I’d personally like the argue that it can be the most EFFICIENT kill of the year, not the best.

Another aspect of Zombieland: Double Tap that falls outside the mark is the zombie evolutionary chain. At the start Columbus educates the viewer on Homers, Hawkings and Ninja; each of whom have their own deadly personality traits. Then later in the movie we get the T-800 zombies who are nearly indestructible. Over the course of the movie, the different types of zombies leads to absolutely…nothing? They are not important and act only as a ploy to make sure the audience knows this story is set part in a different bit of landscape.

Alright, some quick fantastic points that lean in Zombieland: Double Tap‘s favor. When Wichita tells Tallahassee that Little Rock has run off with the hippy, peace-loving and non-violent Berkley, his reaction is priceless. He wasn’t overreacting at all. Then when Nevada enters the fray she describes planning on “Murraying” Tallahassee; AKA killing a human thinking they are a zombie. A wonderful callback to Columbus’ mishap and the most long-lasting impact of Zombieland. Delightfully self-aware!

The ending to Zombieland: Double Tap is its downfall. Once Tallahassee, Columbus and Wichita enter Babylon (the stereotypical apocalyptic peaceful safe haven) and reconnect with Little Rock, the entire movie enters double-speed. It begins moving so fast that the characters themselves begin moving in and out of scenes and dialogue like blurs.

Many decisions made seem rushed, like Little Rock breaking up with Berkley out of nowhere? It had to happen, obviously, but it was jarring to see it happen so quickly. Also there is NO WAY Tallahassee would allow his weapons to be melted down. Maybe he would be willing to give them up, but to have them destroyed? That is like burning his own ethos.

Zombieland: Double Tap is a movie people clambered for in order to be with the characters and not for the action and set pieces. As the movie winds down, it loses its magic and as a result, the bombastic ending of zombies plummeting to their death is remarkably hollow. Remember back to 2009 when watching Zombieland for the first time and Wichita and Little Rock are hanging in peril? There was actual investment in what would happen to them.

At the end of Zombieland: Double Tap, there is a lack of emotional stakes. It’s rather obvious there no immediate danger posed to the heroes of the story. We know they will survive. We know who Nevada is coming to save the day. We Know that Columbus and Wichita will work it out. This is not inherently bad. We want a happy ending for these characters, but it is fair to want one that is earned through storytelling and not just handed out like a gift bag.

Zombieland: Double Tap hits all the necessary notes for crowd pleasing sequel. The characters are back in much the same way as the original. The comedic and visual tone is also mirrored for the majority of the time in this sequel. Zombieland: Double Tap does suffer from the classic sequel of blending originality an nostalgia. The third act loses touch with the characters and how they are the major appeal. Overall it’s an enjoyable ride (even if its in a minivan) but expect road bumps along the way and the final destination to be a tad bit underwhelming.

STANKO RATING: C+ (3.0/5 Stars)

“Zombieland: Double Tap” IMDB
“Zombieland: Double Tap” Rotten Tomatoes

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