Zack Snyder’s 2021 film “Army of the Dead” starts with a really good montage of mayhem in Las Vegas – a powerful fast-moving Zombie wreaks havoc in ‘Sin City’, turning it into a mass living grave of the living dead. The U.S army manages to contain the spread and cordon off the entire city.
Like the trailer suggests – the film is about a team led by Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) tasked with entering the Zombie zone to recover 200 million USD from the underground safe of a casino within 48 hours. The deadline is important because the government plans to nuke the area and finish off the horde of zombies for good.
Director Zack Snyder introduces some new tropes to the zombie genre that makes the story interesting. The zombies are no longer slow or completely dumb; but we see very little thinking by the so called ‘Alphas’ anyway. A few more new behavioral traits are also thrown in the mix. What could have been a great fast-paced ‘The Italian Job’ meets ‘The Walking Dead’, is reduced to just another forgettable zombie caper that is too long for its own good. The script is complicated by some emotional sub-plots, like Scott Ward’s attempt to reconcile with his daughter Kate (Ella Purnell) and a brief romantic diversion with another team member that was absolutely unnecessary.
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Interestingly, one of the side-characters gets the most intense action sequence – actor Samantha Win who plays Chambers, flawlessly enacts an kick-ass zombie-killing spree inside the casino. So there are some gratifying scenes for those who came to see some blood and gore. However, the pace of the film is all over the place, disrupted at crucial junctures by slow emotional sequences. While the title ‘Army of the Dead’ suggests an epic bloodbath, you never get a ‘life and death’ battle between the humans and the ‘undead’ freaks. One never feels “these guys are so screwed”. Everything is too convenient and yet in the end, almost everybody turns out to be a loser in this horror-heist film.
The climax was slightly underwhelming, making fans pray for some redemptive twist, and Zack Snyder finally does throw a little spin to the tale in the end that doesn’t leave regular horror fans disappointed when the credits roll in. ‘Army of the Dead’ could have been bigger, better, faster, but if you ‘un-think’ like the ‘un-dead’, you will really enjoy this one.
It’s a 6/10 from me.
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I knew this wasn’t going to add up to a great zombie flick. The trailer was all show and no grit.