At the beginning of Zombieland: Double Tap, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) welcomes us back to Zombieland in a voiceover detailing what’s been happening in the zombie-ridden US of A in the last 10 years as well as thanking us for choosing them in the highly concentrated field of zombie entertainment. It’s deliciously meta and self-aware and serves as a welcome easing into the zombie-filled world of Columbus, Tallahassee (excellent Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone) and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin).
Things have changed, or at least evolved in Zombieland, but our trio hasn’t. They’re still the same people they were 10 years ago, which is where the film’s charm but ultimately biggest weakness lies. The film quickly introduces us to the new categories of zombies; you’ve got your Homers, your Hawkings and your Ninjas. A new threat, T-800s soon appear and are the deadliest zombies our heroes have ever faced. It’s a shame the film never quite utilises all four different types of zombies apart from a few cheap laughs.
Zombieland: Double Tap does almost everything right. It has plenty of gore, laughs, great set pieces and wonderful action. It has a little less heart than it did the first time around, but the film has fantastic re-watch quality. There is something comforting in a film like Double Tap; it’s brainless fun, an invitation to relax for 90 minutes. While great films often ponder the immortal questions of life, sometimes films like Double Tap are the ones we prefer to watch over and over again, they allow us a break from our own exhausting and draining lives.
Unfortunately, Double Tap is much more forgettable than the first Zombieland. Double Tap tries to repeat the gags that were so funny in the first film, but feel a little tired here. Columbus’ nervous manners and list of rules just doesn’t quite tickle the funny bone quite as much anymore and Tallahassee’s macho man act was beautifully underlined with tragedy in the first film, but here he just comes across as a bit of a jerk.
Emma Stone is fantastically witty as Wichita, but all characters strangely feel underused. The film keeps moving from scene to scene, zombie attack to zombie attack but can’t quite squeeze anything meaningful out from its characters. Breslin pulls the shortest straw and is somehow side-lined the most in a film that’s plot revolves around her character.
All the actors do a marvellous job and most of Double Tap’s joy comes from watching these four fantastic actors together. There’s still plenty of chemistry present and the sparks fly when the foursome bounce off each other early in the film. All four actors blend back in with their characters with remarkable ease and from the first moments it’s as if nothing has changed and no time has passed.
Once the plot demands for Breslin’s Little Rock to separate from the group, the electric current that has kept the film alive, goes down a notch. Zoey Deutsch shows up as new addition Madeline, a ditzy millennial blonde who has miraculously survived in Zombieland for this long. The character is amusing, but gets old and starts to grind on the viewer as the film goes on. We get it, you want us to think she’s dumb. Deutsch commits to the role and demonstrates great comedic timing and skills, but the problem lies within the script rather than in Deutsch’s performance.
The film’s highpoint is without a doubt a gleefully violent one-shot action palooza happening inside an Elvis Presley motel. The entire sequence is brilliant, from the introduction of Alburquerque and Flagstaff (played by Luke Wilson and Thomas Middlestitch), carbon copies of Tallahassee and Columbus to the inevitable zombie outbreak and the ensuing mayhem. It shows that Double Tap puts entertaining its audience first and foremost. Double Tap isn’t particularly profound in its themes, but it sure is fun.
Double Tap, while undoubtedly a mediocre film overall, is full of laughs and great jokes, delivered by great actors. This is a so-so sequel, but the jokes mostly still land, even if they’re not quite as memorable as the first time around. Regardless, there is much fun to be had with Double Tap and it’s a welcome addition to the genre.
Dir: Ruben Fleischer
Scr: Rhett Reese, Paul Wernick, Dave Callaham
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone, Woody Harrelson, Abigail Breslin
Prd: Gavin Polone
DOP: Chung-hoon Chung
Music: David Sardy
Country: USA – Canada
Runtime: 99 minutes
Zombieland: Double Tap is released on Digital Download February 10th and on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-Ray and DVD on February 24th, 2020.