‘Army of the Dead‘ is a film co-produced, co-written, and directed by Zack Snyder. Originally announced in 2007, it got pushed back until it was picked up by Netflix and released in 2021.
After a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, the US government put a full quarantine on it, even walling it before announcing they are going to drop a low-level nuke on the infected city. Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), co-owner of a casino hotel, recruits the mercenary and Vegas survivor Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) to recruit a team to sneak inside, steal the money in the vault, and get out before the city is destroyed. Scott recruits his friend Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera), ex-soldier Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), safecracker Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighöfer), helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), sharpshooter Mikey Guzman (Raúl Castillo) and his girlfriend Chambers (Samantha Win), plus Bly’s head of security Martin (Garret Dillahunt). Scott’s daughter Kate (Ella Purnell) bullies her way onto the team after realizing a friend snuck into the city with the help of a coyote Lily (Nora Arnezeder). Armed to the teeth, they head into Las Vegas ready to grab the cash.
While this movie was not as bad as a lot of Snyder films, it is still pretty bad. Everyone who knows me knows I am not a fan of his directorial style and this zombie movie is no exception. It has all of the hallmarks of a Snyder film, which is quickly becoming its own genre.
First of all, a lot of logic in the movie makes no sense. Lily claims that zombies “die” after drying out only to be brought back during the rain, this is never revisited, by the way. They double down on this when they microwave, yes microwave, a zombie hand to lure a zombie into a trap explaining its the body heat that attracts them to their prey. Okay, so why don’t the zombies cannibalize each other due to the Nevada heat? Also, somehow a character survives a nuke by hiding in a safe and just walks out with no fallout affecting him. The same character also gets bitten and while most succumb to the virus within minutes, he barely starts changing after hours.
There is also a lot of plot threads left unexplained. At least twice, you see these zombies with metallic bones and shining blue eyes. What were they? Where did they come from? Same with the alphas. What’s the extent of their cognition? If they can make helmets to defend their skulls, why can’t they escape Las Vegas? The regular zombie’s abilities are also completely inconsistent. One minute, they’re dumb like on ‘The Walking Dead,’ and the next their almost communicating like in ‘Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides.’ Rarely do you see such lazy inconsistency.
I feel bad for the actors. They tried their best to take the material they had seriously, but it was so poorly conceived, written, and executed that it came off as stiff overacting. The only celebrity who had any sort of decent dialogue was Tig Notaro, who delivers on every level and I applaud her ability to navigate this disaster of a film.
Another issue I had with this movie was with Kate Ward. Nothing against Ella Purnell personally, but that character basically causes any and all major deaths in the plot. She is selfish, unkind, and her actions directly lead to a lot of the unfortunate zombie munching that happens to everyone. She has a goal, but the climax of the film makes it all for nothing placing the deaths squarely on her shoulders.
Representing the toxic white male of the group is Garret Dillahunt’s character, Martin. I don’t know why Zack Snyder did not just name the guy “Bad Guy.” It would have made his character seem LESS on the nose than the whole plot of the film. You can predict every single move he makes.
Essentially, it is typical Snyder. Sure, the visuals are well-done, but everything else falls apart. There’s no character development or growth. The dialogue is drab and dull. Loud intrusive music interrupts important moments. The logic of the movie completely undoes itself. It ends with a sense of doom and nihilism. Oh yeah, and gore.
Bottom line, Army of the Dead is a dull and dumb zombie film that has a stale plot and a lack of logic. It is not even good as an action movie and leaves you with a sense of wanting to cleanse your palate more than anything.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Strong bloody violence, gore, strong foul language, nudity
FAVORITE QUOTE: Everything we did, all those people we saved, look what it got us. But what if, just once, we did something just for us?
Check out the movie trailer:
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