Zombieland: Double Tap Review – A Flawed, But Fun Sequel
When Zombieland was released a decade ago, it was a sleeper hit that was destined for cult status. With its sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap, arriving in theaters ten years later, it’s safe to say that expectations are much higher this time. Although the sequel goes for a much larger scope, it’s not quite as impressive as its predecessor. The cast was one of the big reasons that the original worked so well. In Zombieland: Double Tap, the returning performers manage to make the decade-long wait for a follow up worth it – for the most part.
While director Ruben Fleischer’s filmography has seen its ups and downs, he hasn’t missed a step for the sequel. Right from the action-heavy prologue, it’s clear that Fleischer is having a blast returning to this world. This is easily his best movie since the original.
Saved by the Cast
Zombieland: Double Tap also leans heavily on the talents of the cast. Woody Harrelson is once again relishing his role as Tallahassee. This is undoubtedly Harrelson’s movie. Although Harrelson did much of the heavy lifting in the original, he manages to do even more in the sequel. Similarly, franchise newcomer Rosario Dawson is excellent, and she proves to be the perfect counterpoint to Harrelson’s manic energy.
However, the rest of the cast gets short shrift. As good as Jessie Eisenberg and Emma Stone are as Columbus and Wichita, their arc plays out like a B-storyline. The sequel doesn’t dedicate nearly enough time to their relationship for it to properly land. Zoey Deutch is also excellent in the movie, but all three characters remain fairly one-note throughout. Unfortunately, Abigail Breslin is pretty much non-existent in this movie. The film gives her absolutely nothing to do. The secondary cast all deserve more than the movie gave them.
Running on Fumes
The script for Zombieland: Double Tap is also hit-and-miss. For a screenplay that Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, and David Callaham had nearly ten years to develop, it’s a surprisingly safe movie. There are some exciting twists and turns, but it also lacks dramatic heft. The story is paper-thin, just like the original. It’s a script that largely relies on character interactions and improv. The problem is that the characters this time around are relatively static. It’s not necessarily bad – it’s just sloppy and underdeveloped.
Little Rock’s storyline in Zombieland: Double Tap is odd because of its lack of urgency. It’s a story that meanders, there are too many repeat gags, and the voiceover is overused. However, there is one point of logic that makes absolutely no sense whatsoever in the context of the world. Even with these glaring issues, there are some hilarious comedic gags along with plenty of great callbacks to the first film. So much so that it often serves of a reminder of how much better the original was.
(Mostly) Recapturing the Spirit
While the story is a bit of a letdown, there’s some exciting world-building in Zombieland: Double Tap. We finally get to see how zombies actually become zombies, and there’s decent zombie action as a result. It also has great practical gore and make-up effects that are absolutely hilarious. The visual effects are largely fine. But at the same time, it’s also pretty apparent that many of the VFX were rushed, especially in the third act.
Although Zombieland wasn’t a dramatic masterpiece, it had its fair share of heart. The follow-up tries its best, but the sequel lacks an effective dramatic core. Regardless, the doppelganger sequence is easily the best since Shaun of the Dead, and it’s worth the price of admission alone. Much like the movie as a whole, it’s an interesting series of events that begins to overstay it’s welcome before quickly turning into a highlight action reel. Overall, Zombieland: Double Tap is an enjoyable sequel that manages to recapture the spirit of the original. It isn’t necessarily a good movie, but it is fun and largely entertaining. Sometimes, that’s enough.