Staying Ahead Of The Undead - Zombieland: Double Tap
Ten years after forming out of necessity, Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita, and Little Rock still make a formidable quartet of zombie hunters. At the beginning of Zombieland: Double Tap, they have taken up residence at the White House. Personal issues, however, put a strain on the four. Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) has come into the possession of the Hope Diamond, and uses it to propose to Wichita (Emma Stone). Wichita rejects both the ring and the man. Meanwhile, a now grown Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) grows tired of Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) treating her as if she were still a child. After the failed proposal, both ladies leave these men. Little Rock gets her wish of meeting a peer when she meets Berkeley (Avan Jogia), a musician armed with nothing but a guitar. He tells Little Rock of a place called Babylon where he and others have lived in peace and without weapons.
Wichita decides to return to the White House out of concern for Little Rock's safety. Since her departure, though, Columbus has found a new ally in Madison (Zoey Deutch), who had found shelter in the freezer of a frozen dessert establishment. Tallahassee tolerates her, while Columbus makes a quick connection with her, much to the chagrin of Wichita. Wichita also warns the three of a pack of super zombies heading toward Graceland, which is near Babylon. On the way, Madison shows symptoms of transition to zombie, and Columbus deals with her. While they find Graceland ransacked, they make their way to an Elvis-themed hotel owned and maintained by Nevada (Rosario Dawson). The following day, two other zombie hunters arrive: Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch), who are friends of Nevada. The super zombies arrive there, but the fight is not a complete success. Nevada still points the survivors in the direction of Babylon.
Zombieland: Double Tap brings back the original cast, as well as director Ruben Fleischer and writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, who are joined by Expendables writer Dave Callaham on this sequel. Together, they add enough new wrinkles to make Double Tap a satisfactory sequel. Even before they faced the super zombies, Columbus knew some of the undead he faced didn't go down with just two shots. The meeting of the two groups and their similarities makes for some laughs, as well as the contrast between Madison and Wichita and Little Rock. However, I don't think the film made a very convincing case that Babylon is a safe haven, given that the zombies in the first movie knew and acted upon the weaknesses of the living. Having no weapons, in this case, would suggest trouble for any pacifist. I suppose not maintaining the generally comic tone of the series would have been detrimental in the eyes of those behind the camera. It's also possible that Babylon was intended to create some sort of potential closing element, whether or not a third entry gets made.
The returning cast doesn't miss a beat in reprising their roles. Harrelson brings a comic frustration to Tallahassee as he can't manage to keep anything good. For example, he wants a nice car to drive, in spite of the growing scarcity of working and fueled vehicles. When he finally gets one he likes, Albuquerque and Flagstaff wreck it. Eisenberg is the analytical one of the bunch, as he tells viewers (and later, Albuquerque and Flagstaff) of all of the types of zombies that have come after him and his group. Stone still kills with the best of them, but grows wary of Columbus's attraction to her. Breslin is hardened, but wishful, as Little Rock, who wants to be done with with the mayhem, yet has her reservations about the too-trusting residents of Babylon. Dawson and Deutch are the most fun of the newcomers. Dawson is the older, wiser Nevada, while Deutch seems has a valley girl mentality as Madison, even though mall shopper culture has become obsolete. Bill Murray also returns in a flashback scene, doing a press junket for Garfield 3 as civilization starts to turn. Among those interviewing Murray at the time is Al Roker.
The undead have thrived and evolved, but so have the living. Both sides continue the fight in Zombieland: Double Tap. Not every element of the sequel makes sense, but most of this second entry continues the tale in an entertaining fashion. The players continue to survive by not losing their minds and by not doing things that will get them infected. Perhaps one day, the survivors will put a sizable dent in the people who target them, and their lives will become a different type of normal.
On a scale of zero to four stars, I give Zombieland: Double Tap three stars. A good second helping.
Zombieland: Double Tap trailer
© 2019 Pat Mills