Zombieland: Double Tap may be light on plot and a little messy, but it's just as clever, hilarious and gory as the first film - and plenty of fun.
When Zombieland hit theaters in 2009, it was at a turning point for zombie media, helping to reinvigorate the genre just before the premiere of AMC's long-running drama The Walking Dead. The irreverent horror-comedy was written by Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and directed by Ruben Fleischer, who have gone on to work on wildly popular comic book movies Deadpool and Venom, respectively. Now, the sequel to Zombieland arrives a decade later, picking up in real time in this post-apocalyptic zombie world. Zombieland: Double Tap sees the return of Reese and Wernick as screenwriters, with additional scripting done by Dave Callaham (Godzilla), and Fleischer back in the director's chair. Zombieland: Double Tap may be light on plot and a little messy, but it's just as clever, hilarious and gory as the first film - and plenty of fun.
Ten years after the events of Zombieland, the found family of Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are living in the White House and zombies are relatively old news. However, when Wichita and Little Rock leave unexpectedly, their family is split apart - and things get worse when Wichita returns with news that not only has Little Rock run off with a boy from Berkeley (Avan Jogia), but there are deadlier zombies in the world now. Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and their newfound friend Madison (Zoey Deutch) leave on a road trip to track down Little Rock. Along the way, they meet Elvis enthusiast Nevada (Rosario Dawson), and the eerily familiar Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch). But with stronger zombies on the loose, and Little Rock in danger, it remains to be seen if the family will be reunited, let alone survive.
Despite taking a decade away from the Zombieland property, and skepticism about such a long-delayed sequel, Zombieland: Double Tap proves to be just as much fun as its predecessor, with Reese and Wernick's witty writing at the core of the film. Double Tap is also in a strange position, with its own world frozen in 2009 when the zombie apocalypse began, while the real world has aged 10 years, but the writers manage to play with that in incredibly fun ways. Fleischer also brings the horror to this horror-comedy, with plenty of creative zombie kills and one particular one-take style action scene that's slicker than viewers might be expecting from a zombie movie. Altogether, Double Tap easily captures the same irreverent tone of the first, delivering a compelling expansion of the world and showcasing that there's plenty more fun to be had in Zombieland.
Much of that fun comes from the characters Tallahassee, Columbus, Wichita and Little Rock meet along their journey. Jogia is funny enough as the peace-loving Berkeley, though he's undeniably outshined by new additions like Dawson's Nevada and the scene-stealing Deutch as Madison. A "dumb blonde" who's still managed to survive the zombie apocalypse for a decade, Madison is often underestimated by the more hardened survivors, which is smartly where much of the comedy around her character is derived. Meanwhile, Wilson and Middleditch appear for what is essentially an extended joke, but they're fun foils to Harrelson and Eisenberg's characters. Of course, it's the main cast who hold the film together, bringing plenty of heart to anchor the movie in their found family. While it's perhaps a little over-sentimental at times, clashing with the horror and comedy elements, the throughline of family is carried off well by Harrelson, Eisenberg, Stone and Breslin, giving Zombieland: Double Tap some needed emotional weight.
When it comes to the story of Zombieland: Double Tap, though, it's a bit messy, with the characters getting distracted from their main mission to attempt to find a better vehicle or explore Graceland - to say nothing of the moments when Columbus, as the omniscient narrator, pulls the audience completely away from the story to showcase zombie kills elsewhere in the world. These moments are seemingly built into the story to necessitate action beats, and while they provide plenty of humor and gory zombie fights, it makes Double Tap feel meandering, which would be more frustrating if the movie weren't as fast-paced. Thankfully, at an energetic 99 minutes, Zombieland: Double Tap justifies its diversions by making them easily enjoyable and then quickly returning the characters to their main quest. Even though the film's story isn't the neatest, Zombieland: Double Tap makes it work - partly by distracting the audience with how much fun they're having.
Ultimately, Zombieland: Double Tap is an incredibly enjoyable sequel to Zombieland that defends its existence by delivering a wildly hilarious and smartly crafted horror-comedy in its own right. There are plenty of references to the first film for diehard fans, but the sequel won't leave newcomers in the dark (in fact, it may not even be necessary to have seen Zombieland to understand or enjoy Double Tap). As such, Zombieland: Double Tap is definitely worth a watch for fans of Zombieland or anyone interested in the sequel - though it's perhaps not totally necessary to see it in theaters. Still, moviegoers looking for an entertaining horror-comedy this Halloween season won't go wrong with checking out Zombieland: Double Tap. It may not be a perfect film, but Zombieland: Double Tap is fun as hell.
Zombieland: Double Tap is now playing in U.S. theaters. It is 99 minutes long and rated R for bloody violence, language throughout, some drug and sexual content.
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- Zombieland: Double Tap/Zombieland 2 (2019) release date: Oct 18, 2019