‘Zombieland: Double Tap’ is dead-on target
Ten years is a long time to wait for a sequel, but Zombieland: Double Tap picks up the decade-long slack quite nicely and smoothly. As in the first film, Double Tap has the chemistry of its cast to carry it over the rough patches, benefiting immeasurably from goodwill on both sides of the camera. It’s a good sequel to a good movie. The wait was worth it.
Director Ruben Fleischer’s back at the helm, screenwriters Rhett Reese and Paul Wenick are back on-board (joined by Dave Callahan), and the principal quartet encores: Woody Harrelson (Tallahassee), Jesse Eisenberg (Columbus), Emma Stone (Wichita), and Abigail Breslin (Little Rock). They’re still alive, they’re still together, and they’re still killing zombies by the score.
Remarkably, everyone looks almost exactly the same, with the exception of Breslin, who has of course, grown up in the intervening years. The zombies are nastier and fouler than ever, and the film certainly doesn’t skimp on blood and gore for the horror faithful.
The story opens with our fearsome foursome taking up residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. and settling into a form of familial domesticity. But it’s Little Rock who’s restless and wants to see the world, so she and Wichita set off on their own, eventually pursued by Tallahassee and Columbus.
That’s about it for the story, but that’s hardly a drawback. Like its predecessor, Zombieland: Double Tap is rife with pop-culture references and in-jokes, even referencing itself from time to time. There are some slow patches in the mid-section, but it culminates in an enjoyable slam-bang climax at Babylon, the hippie haven where Little Rock has ended up with Berkeley (Avan Jogia), a guitar-strumming, pot-smoking pacifist who woos her by playing such songs as “Free Bird” and “Like a Rolling Stone,” which he claims to have written himself.
There are some new faces this time around, including Rosario Dawson’s Nevada, a potential love interest for Tallahassee, Luke Wilson’s Albuquerque and Thomas Middleditch’s Flagstaff, who are mirror images of Tallahassee and Columbus, and – best of all – Zoey Deutch’s Madison, a bubble-headed blonde who’s managed to survive the zombie apocalypse by hiding in a freezer all this time. Double Tap continues the tradition of naming its characters after the cities they hail from.
Deutch brings the biggest boost of extra energy to the proceedings, and provides ample opportunity for Stone to display some wonderful slow-burn sarcasm. Bill Murray, whose unexpected cameo in the first film was one of its highlights, makes a return appearance here at the fade-out. That’s less a spoiler than a warning not to leave during the end credits.
See Mark Burger’s reviews of current movies on Burgervideo.com. © 2019, Mark Burger.