During the opening credits of Zack Snyder’s Army of the dead, you can almost feel the director’s giddy smile spread over the hedonistic melee. In Las Vegas, carnivorous zombies are starting to outnumber casinos. And they consume unsuspecting tourists just as quickly. Cannibal showgirls search for prey. Slot machine addicts collecting their remains of misery avoid the newly infected. A stunned Elvis impersonator, wig askew, gazes blankly at the carnage as Richard Cheese’s elegiac cover of “Viva Las Vegas” tracks the wacky bloodshed. This is the rare case where the climax of a movie occurs in the first few minutes.
After frantic panic, Snyder’s thriller dons the clothes of an epic heist film: months after the fall of Vegas, wealthy hotel owner with government ties, Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), enlists a group of mercenaries to infiltrate the invaded city of sin. In the basement of his old hotel is $ 200 million tax-free, locked in a nearly impenetrable safe. At the head of the team is the imposing Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), who saved the Defense Secretary from the Vegas disaster and won a medal, but is now returning burgers to a low-rent restaurant. . He brings together a bunch of old acquaintances and new faces for the mission, including his estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), and together they embark on what appears to be a near-suicide mission. They must secure the money within 48 hours as the United States is about to drop a nuclear warhead on the abandoned city.
Army of the deadHuge 148-minute runtime is tidy compared to the director’s 242 minutes Justice League Cut. But both films are full of wonderful concepts, gripping sets, and intrusive world-building that hides the serious merits of their main narrative: a strained parent-child relationship. With fast zombies, big guns, and even bigger personalities, Snyder’s Army of the dead Will satiate the hardcore fan base the director has amassed, even if his oversized ambitions slow him down.
This film represents Snyder’s second foray with the living dead: Dawn of the Dead, his 2004 remake of the George Romero classic, is casually prescient about the events of 2020. In his Dawn of the Dead, an unknown virus is sweeping the country, leading a disparate group of people to quarantine at a shopping mall as the plague takes hold. Inspired by 28 days later, Snyder used fast zombies as his main fear. For Army of the dead, he takes the next logical step by crafting two types of flesh eaters: shamblers (the insane kind) and alphas (the very advanced kind). A first scene shows a muscular and intelligent Patient Zero zombie escaping from an Area 51 transport convoy. Fast forward to the present day of the movie, and Vegas is not the zombie boss’s prison, it is the kingdom of its alphas. These sophisticated creatures open the door to elaborate action sequences, visceral killings, and copious amounts of blood.
While the flesh eaters are much improved from Dawn of the Dead, large retailers could use more refinement. To carry out the operation, Ward first calls on his closest friends: the restless mechanic Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera); philosopher Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) and chatty helicopter pilot Marianne (Tig Notaro, who was cast green in the finished film to replace Chris D’Elia after allegations of sexual harassment were brought against him). They are joined by Mikey Guzman (Raúl Castillo), the zombie-hunting sensation on YouTube and Reddit, his friend Chambers (Samantha Win) and the humble German cracker Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer). To keep an eye on the group, Tanaka adds his gooey security chief Martin (Garret Dillahunt).
It’s already a pretty packed assemblage of contrasting personalities, but more is more for Snyder. He gets stuck in an immigration story: Three refugee women seeking a better life venture to Vegas to open a slot machine to get funds to bribe the camp guards, but are stranded among the zombies. A sexual predator (Theo Rossi) wields his power over the refugee camp as a security guard. Lily, aka the Coyote (Nora Arnezeder), a guide with a mountain of regrets, takes Ward’s team to the fallen city in the hopes of finding redemption. There is also a zombie tiger and an undead Alpha King and Queen. Most viewers would have a hard time remembering all of these story actors, especially since their character development is spotty at best, and illogical and overworked at worst.
But not many people come to a Snyder movie for the sake of logic. They pay for an escape show. And Army of the dead has a lot of them. Soft lenses capture a tattered Vegas landscape littered with dried corpses and a disintegrating skyline. The setting serves as a grand post-capitalist backdrop to a multitude of specific fights. A screaming climax reel of cascading balls and a spinning baseball bat, for example, sees the team imagining their route to the abandoned hotel. Other skirmishes take place in a claustrophobic environment: one involves a maze of hibernating flesh-eaters. Another sees Bautista delivering precise headshots while running in slow motion across an island of roulette tables. Others take place in the sky, where a helicopter hovers between dilapidated skyscrapers.
Snyder understands the tone of a modern zombie movie. As Dawn of the Dead, this is where its hallmark shines best. A moment of laughter out loud involves a presenter quoting the president on his decision to bomb Vegas on July 4: “Really cool, and the ultimate fireworks display.” Actually a little patriotic, if you think about it. Yes Army of the dead were only dark comics, however, it quickly got boring. Since his first film, Snyder has certainly added a heartfelt tenor to his over-embellished narrative: The failed father-daughter relationship between Scott and Kate underlies all of the over-the-top gunfights, giving the film a heartache in the real world. Snyder also has Bautista, whose advanced sense of physicality translates more into his quiet desperation. More than a few scenes here are reminiscent of his stellar work as a touching replicant in Blade Runner 2049.
Viewers’ mileage with this zombie heist thriller will vary – there are several points where the languid pace kicks in, where we navigate this explosive hug with the slowness of a coward in a minefield. It feels like a 110-minute movie is hiding here, a movie more focused on the paternal injury that drives Scott, as well as the heist itself. Dreck covers of classics like “The End” and “Viva Las Vegas” also belittle the rich epic. The cast too large to count blurs the matter even further: a narratively integral character literally disappears towards the end. And there are nuggets of intriguing concept that could be developed into delicious subplots if they weren’t so overshadowed by the sheer scale of this movie.
Snyder’s parts Army of the dead are definitely stronger than the whole. But if you’re looking for an absurd assault of blood and guts mixed with sharp humor, then Army of the dead is the great swinging zombie movie of your fantasies.
Army of the dead is in theaters and is now streaming on Netflix.