by Brad Miller
Sequels often feel out of place, like they don’t quite belong. While "Zombieland: Double Tap" ensures a fun time, it sadly falls under the category of missing the mark. Because of the 10-year delay between the original movie “Zombieland” released in 2009 and the release of this movie, the relevancy has lessened.
Since the zombie outbreak that occurred in 2009, it has become more and more difficult to survive alone. Four survivors Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin have been traveling together since they joined forces in their previous outing in "Zombieland." Now 10 years later, the group leaves their safe new home of the White House to travel to Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Now, these zombie slayers must rely on their abilities and weapons to defeat a threat like none they’ve faced before.
While the film was released in 2019, the project was to start shortly after the release of the first movie in 2009. During that time, the creator’s original idea for the plot had to change with their cast of course aging during that time. A theme of the movie is leaving the nest. Rhett Reese, one of the Zombieland writers told “Vulture Magazine,” new additions to the writing team "did a wonderful job updating the story, bringing it to a more of an empty nest story about a young woman who used to be a girl, and used to love to look up to her father figure, but now really wants to get out in the world.”
The first 30 minutes of the movie benefits from not having a specific path to follow. With the lack of a focal point, the writers can focus on jokes and tossing in new characters randomly. Don’t be confused; while the film focuses on comedic themes, the visuals can certainly be gory.
The lack of focus becomes apparent around halfway through the movie. While jokes are constantly being thrown out, most of them don’t stick. I chuckled a few times and genuinely thought some scenes were funny, but nothing made me lose control of my laughter.
Tallahassee (Harrelson), Columbus (Eisenberg) and Wichita (Stone) have one of the greatest on-screen relationships I’ve seen in a long time of movie watching. They allowed me to dive into their world and feel like their relationships were real, which is not an easy task. Outside of those three, I think the acting skills took a little bit of a hit. No one else steals the show, which is disappointing to me.
While Little Rock’s (Breslin) performance didn't seem off, the writing for her was just bad. Her motivation didn’t make much sense. Watching her story unfold reminded me of films that simply go by the book. For example, before the climax, the main characters have a falling out or a character thought to be dead comes back and saves everyone. Her character arc was just so predictable that I dreaded even having her on screen. She got much less screen time than the other three main characters, which to me was a good idea.
The 10-year wait was certainly much longer than fans of the original film expected for a sequel to come out. However, we finally did receive the sequel to the cult classic known as "Zombieland." The film doesn’t feel too out of place, it feels like we never left, except for a few differences. When Little Rock decided she wanted to leave her friends and family, the writers were given a great deal of freedom. However, maybe it was too much freedom.
The film lacks direction but if the jokes were to fall more often, I don’t think that audiences would care. Many times in the movie I felt like they were just stalling to get to that 109 minutes run time. That being said, the chemistry between our protagonists will keep spectators entertained just because of how well they work together.
Sadly that doesn’t save the film from wasting a few resources. The new characters such as Madison (Zoey Deutch) and Berkeley (Avan Jogia) weren’t fleshed out in the slightest. They both were one-note characters, but it still feels like neither of them reached their true potential.
With a more refined focus and fewer jokes that tattered on the edge of annoyance, this sequel was capable of blowing the original out of the water. It’s still definitely worth watching, especially if you enjoyed the first.
Zombieland: Double Tap (Rated R) is now available for streaming.
Images provided by Columbia Pictures.