Movie Review: Army of the Dead (2021)

Directed by Zack Snyder, Army of the Dead is a zombie/bank heist film released onto Netflix in 2021. Unable to resist the haul of a lifetime, retired mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), puts together a team to infiltrate an untouched bank vault after a zombie outbreak has overrun the now sealed-off city of Las Vegas. At the behest of Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), and his private security Martin (Garret Dillahunt), Scott enlists soldier Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), mechanic Maria (Ana del la Reguera), safecracker Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer), helicopter pilot Peters (Tig Notaro) and social media influencer and sharpshooter Guzman (Raul Castillo). Gaining access to the city by smuggler Lily, aka The Coyote (Nora Arnezeder), the team soon finds that there is more going in inside than originally thought.

+ it’s no secret Snyder has a knack for style, from the opening credits of Watchmen and Dawn of the Dead to the visual feasts of 300 and Sucker Punch. The same is on display here, with copious action and gore meticulously planned to get a reaction from the viewer. There is a surprising lack of slow-mo for a Snyder film, but when it does happen it’s used effectively
+ generally speaking, I like Bautista as an actor and I’m happy to see him have succeeded in acting after his wrestling career. Nataro as helicopter pilot Peters was probably my personal highlight, however, especially as she was the voice of reason in an otherwise rag-tag bunch of misfits (ie. idiots). Theo Rossi has a supporting role as a jerk-ass security guard at a quarantine facility, and he always impresses me
+ a few concepts through the movie really tickled my fancy, such as knowing exactly how and when the outbreak began, the fact it was contained to one city, and the more spoilery goings-on inside Las Vegas. I would favourably compare these beats to what World War Z did for the genre (the book, not that god awful movie garbage)

– the entire subplot revolving around Kate (Ella Purnell) drags the movie to a crawl and in fact is never even resolved. Not only was it frustrating and boring, it was entirely inconsequential
– the interesting story beats mentioned above never get fleshed out (hilarious zombie pun intended). It almost felt like Snyder wanted this to be even longer than the 2.5 hours it was, or even split into two film, as these high concepts could have made for some really interesting moments. If I may be a pretentious twat for a moment, I’d insist Snyder learn of the literary/dramatic principle of Chekhov’s Gun, because a lot of teases here went nowhere

> equal parts a conscious decision by Snyder, doubling here as cinematographer, and out of necessity from recasting one of the actors, a lot of the movie is very blurry. It doesn’t detract from the film, but it certainly never makes it better

Should you see this film: Overall, this was a perfectly fine zombie/heist movie that never felt like it went too hard as a zombie film or a a heist film. The subplot involving Scott’s daughter, Kate, slowed the movie to a crawl every time and it actively dragged the total quality down. Go and rewatch Snyder’s 2004 Dawn of the Dead instead.

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