Before zombies were a pop-culture craze, and a full year before The Walking Dead took the world by storm, the original Zombieland premiered on October 2, 2009.
A surprise hit that earned five times its budget, the film was a refreshing and hilarious take on the zombie subgenre, and ultimately became a beloved cult-classic. Now, 10 years later following endless speculation, the much-anticipated sequel has finally arrived.
Welcome to Zombieland 2: Double Tap.
Here We Go Again
In the middle of the opening title sequence, laid over stylish shots of our protagonists killing zombies in slow motion, I honestly let out an audible groan. “Oh no, here we go again.” As a huge fan of the original, I wasn’t terribly excited for this sequel. It seemed like too much time had passed and, within those first few moments, I suddenly realized how supersaturated the zombie genre currently is.
Even the quirky “Welcome to Zombieland” reprises introduction from Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) couldn’t induce more than a chuckle from me. It wasn’t until Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) kicked down the doors of the White House does this film remind me why the first one worked so well in the first place.
A Winning Chemistry
Tallahassee was definitely the shining highlight from the first film and he was the saving grace for the sequel in immediate fashion. Woody Harrelson is in top form as the wisecracking, badass zombie killer and his chemistry with Columbus is as strong as ever.
Seeing the gang back together was enough to re-engage me back into the film as they proceed to live out their post-apocalyptic lives in the nation’s capital. Wichita (Emma Stone) was just as cold and sarcastic as ever. Her relationship with Columbus is equally both adorable and awkward.
After being smothered by her overbearing surrogate father in Tallahassee, Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) takes off on her own. The ensuing chase to bring her back drives the rest of the picture as we wisely get introduced to a whole new crop of zany characters.
Fresh Faces in a Decomposing World
Like most great sequels, we get a taste of familiarity but, at some point, something new is introduced. Much like its popular counterpart, The Walking Dead, Double Tap benefits from interesting and layered characters completely different from our original heroes.
Zoey Deutch is especially delightful albeit in a one-note, one dimensional role. The fact that she succeeds at all is a testament to her performance. Luke Wilson is hilarious in his over the top glorified cameo and Rosario Dawson naturally rocks as a tough, no-nonsense, independent woman.
These new characters complement the core group nicely without ever overshadowing their presence.
Nailing the Little Things
Director Ruben Fleischer has always had a keen eye for action as showcased in the first Zombieland, as well as the divisive Venom. During my favorite scene in Double Tap, we get a gorgeous one-take sequence that is both exhilarating and well choreographed. There was a brief section in the film that I couldn’t help but notice seemed like a blatant rip off of Shaun of the Dead. However, what Fleischer did with the scene worked well and created great humor in the context of both Zombieland films.
From the White House to the Hound Dog Hotel and to the hipster paradise of Babylon, all of the set pieces were fantastically designed and ridiculously epic. The core cast still had the same hilarious energy and a clueless misfit vibe that made them so lovable the first time around.
All in all, Zombieland: Double Tap was not the shameless cash grab I had anticipated at all. It was a worthy successor and an overall fun adventure that I’ll gladly revisit, anytime.