Zombieland: Double Tap Movie Review - An enjoyable return to the world of zombies
This sequel is clearly meant as fan service, but when the performances are this good and the original so beloved, we don't really mind
As soon as Zombieland: Double Tap begins, a little gag with Columbia (she who represents USA and appears on the production company's logo) clues us in on what to expect from this sequel to the 2009 smash hit — another irreverent, fun ride. And when the credits roll to the sound of Metallica's Master of Puppets, we know what form this fun is going to take. The original's opening credit sequence played to the tune of their For Whom the Bell Tolls. Clearly, Ruben Fleischer (who also directed the first film) isn't out to deviate much from the proven formula for this long-delayed, yet highly-anticipated sequel.
Zombieland: Double Tap is decidedly meant for fans of the original, and the film makes no bones to hide this fact — the voice-over from Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) begins straightaway by welcoming us back to Zombieland and even thanks us for our interest in it all these years later. A new viewer might still enjoy it, but I'd strongly recommend watching Zombieland before heading out to see this. In fact, even if you've already seen the first movie, rewatch it to refresh your memory; you will appreciate why when you see the innumerable references and callbacks. Let me put it this way — Rule #74: Revise and rejoice.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Abigail Breslin
The film begins ten years after the events of the first one. Columbus, Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) have perfected their survival skills in Zombieland and their search for a house to call home brings them to the biggest house in the country — the White House — where they spend some happy times. But ten years of living together as a makeshift family leads to some friction, naturally. Soon, Columbus and Wichita find themselves in a rut in their relationship, while Little Rock resents Tallahassee's overbearing paternal attitude and longs to be around people her own age.
Much as they used to in the original, the sisters take off in Tallahassee's weaponised presidential limousine ('The Beast'), leaving behind yet another "not good" note. They run into a hippie (Avan Jogia as Berkeley) whom Little Rock latches on to, and the two run off to Elvis Presley's mansion, Graceland. A concerned Wichita comes back to the White House, ostensibly to load up on weapons to go after the duo, but also to get help from Tallahassee and Columbus. The latter, meanwhile, has met someone new (Zoey Deutch as Madison) and moved on a little too quickly. With Madison in tow, the trio set out in an unlikely vehicle that causes Tallahassee much mortification, and gives us much amusement.
The dumb blonde jokes courtesy Madison's character, while being a bit overdone in places, mostly work. But both Berkeley, and the cracks made at his expense, are unimpressive, save for one tirade of Tallahassee's. This, though, is primarily because of Harrelson's delivery. The actor is as impressive as ever, giving himself fully to the role and making us root for Tallahassee all the way through (My heart was firmly in my mouth during the climax when he's in danger). The rest of the primary cast are also in good form and stay true to the original.
There are three more additions in the form of Nevada (Rosario Dawson), Albuquerque (Luke Wilson), and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch). These last two are meant to be doppelgängers of sorts for Tallahassee and Columbus, respectively. While amusing at first glance, this quickly gets tiresome, and that's some achievement given they are essentially just glorified cameos. The writing in these portions could have been much better. Same applies to the half-hearted handling of the relationship of Columbus and Wichita. Nevada and Tallahassee fare better, but again, this is in large part thanks to the actors (Harrelson, especially, whose belting out of an Elvis tune took me quite by surprise).
Since our heroes have become stronger, the threat has to become, well, more threatening. And so, the zombies get an upgrade and a new model name — the T-800s — Columbus being a fan of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. Known for being a sequel that outdid the original, T2 gets a few more nods as well. After a little bit of meandering, Zombieland: Double Tap returns to form with a genuinely thrilling finale and ends on quite a lovely note (we could have done without the cliche final line maybe, but it's of a piece with Columbus' character, and hence forgivable). This ain't no T2, but it sure is a fun, if slightly, bumpy ride.
Oh, and I haven't mentioned a cameo by a certain beloved star who returns from the original. About that, let me just say this — Rule #75: Stay back till the very end (Marvel movies aren't the only that have post-credit scenes).