2009 was a very different time. Obama became President, Avatar was the highest-grossing film of the year and Heath Ledger was posthumously awarded the Best Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight. But it was also the year that saw the directorial debut of Ruben Fleischer, who went on to direct Gangster Squad and Venom.
Zombieland 2: Double Tap reunites Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin as the gang continues to survive in a zombie-filled America. But with each of them becoming anxious about being settled, as well as chance encounters with other survivors, their idea of ‘home’ becomes harder to find.
When Zombieland became a box-office hit, it grew anticipation for a sequel. But since its release, Fleischer and each member of the cast have gone onto enjoy successful careers in film and TV. Writers Paul Wernick and Rhett Reese have also been busy from working on GI Joe: Retaliation and the Deadpool films. Similar to the development of 2017’s T2 Trainspotting, getting the gang back together was always going to be a mission but now the sequel has finally arrived, was this ten-year-long mission worth it?
Rather than pick up straight after the events at Pacific Playland, Zombieland 2 uses the lengthy time gap to create frustrations among the group. The now-twentysomething Little Rock (Breslin) feels frustrated at inadvertent ‘father figure’ Tallahassee (Harrelson) while Witchita (Stone) is reluctant about her growing relationship with Columbus (Eisenberg). Now accustomed to fighting for survival, the thrill they used to experience when killing zombies is gone so all that is left is domestic life…in post-apocalyptic America.
To liven things up, Wernick and Reese incorporate new elements to refresh the story. This includes several new characters such as dim-witted Madison (Zoey Deutch), hippy Berkeley (Avan Jogia) and motel owner Reno (Rosario Dawson), as well as a new, stronger zombie in the shape of the ‘T-800’. With so much to include, the plot struggles to fully develop these new additions while keeping the focus on the core cast in its 93-minute runtime. Along with the new stereotypical characters, the film’s comedic tone becomes inconsistent.
However, Zombieland 2 includes several comedic touches that will appease fans of the original film and Fleischer brings a bolder direction style to deliver creative action scenes, with those in a motel being a standout. Harrelson, Stone and Dawson offer great performances while Eisenberg looks amusingly awkward as always. Unfortunately, Breslin’s drastically reduced screentime gives her little to do, so her own character arc suffers as a result.
Overall, there are a lot of things to enjoy about Zombieland 2 such as imaginative zombie kills and its wonderful cast. But as a whole, it ultimately falters from not riding its wave ten years ago.
Zombieland: Double Tap is in chimes from Friday 18th of October.