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Army of the Dead Movie Review

Army of the Dead (2021)

Watch Army of the Dead on Netflix
Written by: Zack Snyder (story by), Zack Snyder & Shay Hatten and Joby Harold (screenplay by)
Directed by: Zack Snyder
Starring: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Ana de la Reguera, Omari Hardwick, Theo Rossi, Garret Dillahunt, Tig Notaro
Rated: R
Watch the trailer

Plot
Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.

Verdict
While the run time is one hundred fifty minutes, this doesn’t feel long. It’s got a good pace, but the focus is entertainment. Many aspects of this movie fail under any amount of scrutiny. It’s certainly a bit indulgent and over the top, but that’s more a director trademark. At its core this is a heist movie with zombies for added tension. It’s not great, but it is entertaining.
Skip it.

Review
I really liked Snyder’s feature debut Dawn of the Dead. He no longer has the restraints of a first time director. This is certainly more indulgent. Going in, my main hope for this movie was that it would answer the question of what good is cash in a zombie apocalypse. That’s answered though it raises additional questions. Many things raise questions in this movie if you think about them.

This has an all too predictable start. If you know what this movie is, you know what the military is transporting. While I thought the military guys wondering what they could be hauling was fun, this seems like more of a tired trope than homage. They’re hauling one spry zombie, but for such a secure containment unit, that door sure pops off easy when it falls off the truck.

Snyder usually has a lot of fun with the introduction/title sequence. This one shows us how ordinary people became mercenaries for zombie defense.

Somehow the military walled in Vegas completely without the zombie plague spreading. That’s a difficult trick, but it’s necessary to suspend your disbelief if you want to have fun with the rest of this movie.
I wasn’t quite sure how much time had passed from the outbreak to present day. I would guess at least a year if not a few. Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) operated as a mercenary saving people at the beginning of the outbreak and now is a diner cook. He’s presented with a job to steal cash from a casino. This is a heist movie, the zombies are thrown in for tension. Scott starts putting together his crew. Each new member gets a lower cut than the last. I liked that detail. Most of them used to be mercenaries and now dust off their old gear for a promised payday.
Scott’s estranged daughter joins the crew to look for a friend that entered Vegas. It’s a weak plot element and a huge liability.

Tig Notaro wasn’t originally in the movie, she was green screened in over Chris D’elia when allegations surfaced about potential crimes. There was often a strange depth of focus going on, and at first I thought it was from the green screen. It doesn’t happen just with her though. It might just be a way to blend her scenes in. I’m not sure I’d realize she wasn’t originally filmed if I didn’t know it.

A “coyote” helps them get into Vegas. That’s a fun moment, and this movie has a few tense moments like that. I wonder how the coyote learned the way to appease the zombies.

An hour in and I was impressed with the pacing. The movie hadn’t felt slow, though it slows down just a bit when the crew gets to the casino as they split up and we’re following multiple story lines. Scott trying to connect with his daughter is obviously the weakest.

At a certain point a zombie war against the humans erupts. A few of the zombie do more than just shamble. They’re middling ninjas. There hope is quantity over quality, but that’s difficult with the firepower Scott’s crew has. There’s a lot of gunfire and destruction.

I wouldn’t call this a good movie, but it’s entertaining. It doesn’t feel near as long as it’s two and a half hour run time. It can be predictable and completely over the top indulgent, but that’s what you get with Snyder.

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