Army of the Dead

This zombie heist movie rolls the dice and has fun doing so.

I did an article yesterday about the original “Dawn of the Dead” and the remake directed by Zack Snyder, since “Army of the Dead” is the first zombie movie he’s directed since that film. I said the original was the best, while the remake was fun on its own terms. A fellow on Instagram agreed with my opinion, but criticized me for not discussing about its mass consumerism since both films take place at malls. I’m not concerned about those elements; I’m more concerned about whether the movie is good or not.

This time, “Army of the Dead” takes place in Las Vegas, when an outbreak begins because a woman gives her new husband a blow job en route, and crashes into an army truck containing a bulletproof zombie. That zombie attacked the soldiers, and they head over to Sin City, which soon becomes blocked. It’s also set to be liquidated on the 4th of July, because they say: “it would be really cool.”

Both these movies-they don’t compare with George A. Romero’s masterpiece, but Snyder knows how to have fun with the genre, unlike Paul. W.S. Anderson. He’s takes some risks, spikes the zombie movie with an “Ocean’s Eleven” style, some interesting characters, and entertaining attacks and chases.

As the crime caper story begins, a Japanese businessman named Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) asks mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) to extract $200 million from an underground vault in one of the casinos. To pull off the heist, he assembles a crew-most of whom you can read, while few aren’t fully examined.

The crew includes the mechanic Maria (Ana de la Reguera), the wisecracking helicopter pilot Marianne (Tig Notaro) the YouTuber Mikey Guzman (Raul Castillo), the philosopher Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) the safe cracker Ludwig (Matthias Schweighofer), Tanaka’s right-hand man Martin (Garrett Dillahunt), the coyote Lily (Nora Arnezeder), and the jerky security guard Burt (Theo Rossi).

His estranged daughter (Ella Purnell) works as a volunteer at one of the quarantine camps, and he asks her to drive his team there in exchange for a better future for her. But she needs to get inside the city to rescue her refugee friend (Huma Quershi), who is trapped there. The dad says “no,” but she’s strong-willed, so she’s not talking “no” for an answer.

The last half of “Army of the Dead” tries to be more dramatic than the other half, which is one of the reasons why it’s a long movie-running at 2 hours and 28 min. Another reason is how the zombies are depicted like native tribes as they have their own ways of capturing humans-they have their leader examine them before they bite them. And others include the vault-opening rules, as well as the father-daughter relationship.

Now, before you say: “I get it-it’s a crappy movie,” this isn’t a crappy movie. It’s actually a lot of fun because of its sly wit, characters, zombie attacks, and its attempts to do anything to be entertaining. I admired how Bautista has the kind of personality I looked for and missed in “Stuber” and “My Spy,” both outside his “Guardians of the Galaxy” reach. I also enjoyed Purnell for her acting and ambitions, Schweighofer for his silly comedy, Hardwick and Arnezeder for not following those mean tough character cliches, and Notaro for her wisecracks.

For those of you who suffered through the casino heist bomb “3,000 Miles to Graceland” 20 years ago, you might be enthralled or disappointed, depending on how you view it. But in my perspective, I was at the edge of my seat.

Rating: 3 out of 4.

In Select Theaters This Friday

Streaming on Netflix Next Week

Categories: Action, Crime, Horror, Sci Fi, Thriller

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