Zack Snyder offers up his second film of 2021 following his version of the 2017 movie Justice League, which was released just weeks ago. Army Of The Dead, an original story co-written by Shay Hatten, Joby Harold, and Snyder himself, hits Netflix in what seems like one of the very first big releases of the year – a summer tentpole release kicking off the blockbuster season with a bang.
We open to the Nevada desert where a security detail is transporting cargo from Area 51 to an unknown location. However, things run into trouble when a couple of newlyweds speeding outside of Las Vegas having just got hitched, derail the convey, the security container’s load escaping. What’s inside – which we immediately learn are zombie-like creatures – tears apart the crew that was escorting them to a new home, and then to the bright lights of Sin City where they infect everyone who comes into their path. The event causes countless lives to be lost and the government ring-fence the city, managing to keep the violence and carnage locked inside. All of that happens within the first ten to fifteen minutes, mostly pre-title cards.
Dave Bautista convincingly leads the cast as Scott Ward, a former mercenary who has seemingly lost everything. Now flipping burger joints in a remote town, he is propositioned by a rich casino owner named Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) offers him a wad of money to go back into Las Vegas to bring out $200 million in cash which is stored in the vault in his now over-run-with-the-undead casino and hotel in the middle of the Las Vegas strip. Ward recruits a team to assist him on his mission, one he will have to complete in just over 24 hours before the government drops a napalm nuclear bomb on the city to wipe out the thousands of zombies running through the streets.
Mix Ocean’s 11 with John Carpenter’s Escape From New York with an obvious dose of George Romero and you’re somewhere near Zack Snyder’s Army Of The Dead. And it is ‘ A Zack Snyder Film’ with the clearly talented filmmaker directing from his own screenplay (which he shares writing credits with Shay Hatten, and Joby Harold), as well as taking on the director of photography role. I had a lot of fun with the movie. It’s a blast from the outset, and I largely enjoined what the filmmakers had come up with. It never takes itself too seriously, moves at a reasonable pace, and has a killer soundtrack with various versions of famous tracks littered throughout – yes, The Cranberries’ ‘Zombie’ is in there. There are inventive kills, tons of blood, cartoonish violence, and a bunch of cool characters, some of which are oozing with cliché, but that all just adds to the tone of the film. Snyder wants you to have a good time with this.
Bautista more than proves himself as the ass-kicking leading man in one of his biggest roles to date, and he’s supported by some superb talent, including Omari Hardwick, Nora Arnezeder, Matthias Schweighöfer, and Samantha Jo who make up some of the team Ward puts together to complete his dangerous mission. There’s also Theo Rossi, who was so good in Sons Of Anarchy, returning to the screen this time as a sleazy security officer, and also Garret Dillahunt as an additional member of the elite team sent in by his casino owner boss to oversee proceedings.
There are a couple of minor issues in the cinematography which, while exceptional and super-stylish – in the vein of Snyder’s previous work – the filmmaker chooses to use wide apertures and very shallow depths of field in a lot of the character mid-shots, which is a little distracting. The second issue is that it is super long at nearly two and a half hours – which it really doesn’t need to be.
That said, the film does come across both in name and subject for Snyder. It seems that’s he come full circle from his big feature break-out, the 2004 remake of Dawn Of The Dead, returning to the popular zombiegenre, and fans of that will get a kick out of this too. Brain and butt-numbing it may be, but it is also a hugely enjoyable horror/ action movie that serves the fans with a product they’ll lap up in their droves.
Army Of The Dead is released on Netflix on 21st May.
Army Of The Dead
A film which serves the fans everything they would want from a kick-ass zombie film. Visually superb with a great; Army Of The Dead might be long and offering nothing new, but most will reach its finale satisfied.