Some filmmakers have built their entire careers around what audiences expect of them. If you go to see a Hitchcock movie, you will get a crime thriller. If you’re going to see a Coen Brother movie, you’re going to get some quirky dark comedy. And if you see a Zack Snyder movie, you’ll see a lot of action and style and very little substance.
Ever since he burst onto the scene in 2004 with his remake of “Dawn of the Dead” to every comic book movie he has made or produced since, Snyder’s main focus seems to be to make really cool stuff and not much else. But as long as people keep paying, it won’t fix the problem.
This trend continues with “Army of the Dead,” a new zombie movie that isn’t part of any pre-existing series, but certainly pays homage or parody to many of them while passing things on to 11. Let it be either the tragedy his family went through for a few years or the stressful expectations of returning to complete his movie “Justice League,” Snyder put everything he had into this one.
Snyder is not only the director, co-producer and co-writer as with most of his films, but also the director of photography, and I think if he had focused his attention on just one role other than director , it probably would’ve been more cohesive and all around better picture. But by letting him do what he does best, “Army of the Dead” is a zombie / heist action flick as enjoyable as your brain will allow.
Several years after a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas that was cut off by the government, former Zombie War hero Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) is approached by the casino boss to enter the zombie infested quarantine zone to recover $ 200 million sitting in a safe under the strip before the city is destroyed by the government in 32 hours.
Spurred on by hopes the gain might help pave the way for a reconciliation with estranged daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), Ward steps up to the challenge by assembling a motley team of experts for the heist. After assembling a motley group of specialists, Kate informs Scott that she is going too, whether he likes it or not.
Upon arriving in Vegas, the group realizes that the mission is not as straightforward as it seems. With a clock ticking, a notoriously impenetrable chest, and a horde of smarter, faster Alpha zombies, only one thing is certain in the biggest heist ever: Survivors take it all.
Part of Snyder’s affinity for sleek, over-the-top action is the amount of violence he can get away with onscreen. Zombie movies and action movies are graphic enough already, but combining them into a Snyder production pushes it way beyond normal. If you’re not a big fan of cinematic blood and guts, give this one a go. Otherwise, the art is quite beautiful and the creativity with how the zombies are eliminated is entertaining.
While the script itself is unimpressive and no deeper than a kiddie pool, the basic idea is intriguing and allows for some cool scenes. “Dawn of the Dead” meets “Ocean’s 11” is something you never thought to combine, but they get away with it here because the heist team is made up of fun and unique characters who play in Vegas. zombie infested.
As the runtime continues, it’s no surprise that a large portion of the squad is throwaway and really only there for lethal zombie action. However, the central emotional line between Butista’s character and her daughter adds weight and stakes to the situation, even if it’s cheesy.
It’s Snyder’s celebration of the zombie genre as a whole here, so it was fun to see all the different types of zombies over the decades popping up, from the slowest and dumbest to the fastest and most overpowered to those who are really smart who have become the rulers of this little zombie world. Seeing the inner workings of their own society and social structure is something you usually don’t get in silly action movies.
And to be perfectly clear: this is a silly action movie. The characters are one-dimensional, the violence, explosions, and slow-motion shots are over the top, and there is no substance to the story, morals, or themes. Luckily, he’s an idiot who knows he’s dumb and a lot of fun.