“Zombieland: Double Tap” – Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

These days in Hollywood, it’s not uncommon for a popular film to get a sequel, but after years in development hell, that sequel comes many years later.  Usually when this much time passes, said sequel either taps into the nostalgia of the original and succeeds, or it tries to act like no time has passed at all and fails.  Zombieland: Double Tap might just be that rare sequel that succeeds, without doing either!

In a brilliantly hilarious self-aware move, the poster poked at the ever popular 10 year challenge on social media!

Brave New World
The original Zombieland showed us a world that had recently fallen into chaos due to zombie uprising.  We met a cast of dynamic characters who were all trying to survive in their own way, and in the process they accidentally became a family.  Double Tap picks up approximately 10 years later, and we see our very unconventional family seeking a very unconventional place to live: the White House itself.

In the years that have passed, Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock have a pretty strong tactical routine down when under attack by zombies.  It’s no surprise, as they certainly wouldn’t have survived all these years without doing it.  However, much like they’ve had to adapt to this new world, so too have the zombies.  Some have gained intelligence (referred to as  “Hawkings”), and some have gained quite a bit of stealth (“Ninjas”).

However, the deadliest by far are the newly mutated zombies, dubbed “T-800s” by Columbus.  Like the terminators, they are nearly unstoppable and very difficult to kill.  In the myriad of zombie film/television, it’s not very often we get ones that are intelligent, or at least smarter than mindless predators, and while it’s really cool this film embraces it, not much is ever really done with them.

We do get to see them travel to Graceland, where Tallahassee wear Elvis’ actual suit, so the film has that going for it.

Learning to be a Family…Again
As the four protagonists settle into life at the White House, Tallahassee and Columbus feel right at home, satisfied with their somewhat domestic existence.  However, much like before, Wichita and Little Rock get restless and proved themselves to be flight risks.

For Wichita, she fears being tied down to Columbus, even in this post-apocalyptic world, and for Little Rock, she’s tired of being treated like a little kid and desires to have someone her own age to be with.

If this sounds at all familiar, it should.  In the absence of the their female family members, Tallahassee plans to go off alone, while Columbus meets a beautiful, but incredibly dim-witted girl named Madison (Zoey Deutch).

In fact it’s kind of amazing that she’s survived quite as long as she did.  She and Columbus quickly have a fling, which is understandable, given that she’s been alone for years and he missed Wichita.

Wichita surprisingly returns just to make this discovery, but she has no time to spare as Little Rock has run off with a boy and the “family” bands together to find her.  Obviously family plays a pivotal role in both films, and there’s nothing wrong with exploring it here again.

It just feels that the characters don’t learn anything that they didn’t already cover in the first film.  It has its funny moments and another explosive climax, but at the end of the day, it’s nothing that we didn’t already see in the first Zombieland.

When these four get together, they’re pretty much unstoppable!

True Intentions
However, we must take the film’s intentions into account as well.  Like the first, it doesn’t take itself too seriously and the emphasis is on jokes and fun moments rather than trying to be groundbreaking.

So when we take this into consideration, it makes sense that it might follow the same beats, perhaps as if to even suggest that people get into ruts and need to learn the same lesson multiple times.

What makes the film work is the amazing chemistry between the four leads, which is only enhanced by bringing in Rosario Dawn and Zoey Deutch.  Madison is a fun character and very much serves as a foil to Wichita, even if at times she’s so stereotypically dumb it’s almost cartoonish.

Rosario Dawson’s character is by far the best new addition.

There’s also a brief scene with Luke Wilson and Tom Middleditch where they’re essentially playing doppelgangers to Tallahassee and Columbus.  It goes on just long enough before it turns from funny to annoying.

The film is also sarcastically self-aware, and even makes a few meta jabs at itself. We must remember that this is a world where civilization as we know it ended in 2009, so many of the cultural and popular norms are a bit dated now, but that’s very much the point.

To the film’s credit, it’s also extremely well shot.  There’s one sequence in particular where the characters are fighting zombies between different rooms of a building and the camera moves form room to room, in what appears to be one long continuous take.  Between the camerawork, stuntwork, and visual effects, this scene is nothing short of amazing!

Overall, Zombieland: Double Tap is a fun and entertaining follow up that still reminds us to enjoy the little things. It doesn’t attempt to try anything groundbreaking or too unique, but it’s goal is make you laugh rather than be profound.  It has the potential to be great, but settles for pretty good.  And for a zombie comedy, that’s good enough.

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