Movie Review: Zombieland: Double Tap
Zombieland: Double Tap is the sequel to the 2009 hit Zombieland. The found family unit of Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock are settled down, but experiencing that familiar itch of getting back on the road. Little Rock takes off to find other people and the rest of the group takes off hot on her trail to save her from the more evolved undead that still roam the earth. The film stars Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin, and Rosario Dawson. It is directed by Ruben Fleischer.
Zombieland: Double Tap falls into the trap of a lot of sequels. Though, enough time has gone by that the tropes it's playing with aren't completely stale. It's silly interjection of the "rules" of Zombieland as physical objects, the slow motion melees, Columbus' fear of clowns both undead and alive, Tallahassee's need to paint Dale Earnhardt's number on every vehicle he drives, the Zombie Kill of the Week/Year/Century awards are all still welcome and still funny.
What's really lacking is the progression of the characters. Especially when it comes to Tallahassee, who while he puts on the mask of a man who enjoys himself in this new world, revealed in the first film he did it all for the fact that his family, including his toddler son, were ripped away from him by zombies. Here in the sequel, though, he's a caricature of humanity, someone who's a punchline machine instead of a fully fleshed out character. Even his catchphrase is stale. Wichita remarks it's so 2009.
The whole film feels like a giant wink in that way. While Zombieland: Double Tap is charming the insistence on "meta" commentary is entirely groan worthy. The part of the story where Tallahassee and Columbus meet their doppelgangers in characters Albuquerque and Flagstaff respectively, wears very thin. The exchanges border on annoying and the sequence drags on long past its amusement, especially as most of the novelty was played in the trailer and it has no grander purpose in the narrative except to lead to an action sequence. That being said, Ruben Fleischer continues to excel at dynamic direction.
Without much gimmick, aside from the CGI ones, Fleischer can really bring the audience into an action scene with clarity and precision. I will do my best to go over the scene I just mentioned above without spoiling it because it was really fun to watch. The action begins when some zombies invade the group's pow wow. Columbus and Tallahassee are the targets of the zombie ire. The camera follows room to room as Columbus and Tallahassee fight and quip at each other and Wichita and new character Nevada do their best interference. We're pulled through walls, flung on the floor, slipped on, hit in the face, and wrestled as they are. It's an invigorating and nerve wracking scene and not the only excellent set piece that's been crafted by Fleischer and his fantastic cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung.
Unless a long story or series is being adapted, there's never a need for a sequel. After ten years and a failed TV series, Zombieland: Double Tap seems a little odd for this kind of treatment. If you enjoyed the first film, you'll enjoy this one. It's not as good, but it has its moments.