A pair of soldiers steering a super classified convoy speculate over the shipment while a newlywed couple make out in the car before the twain collide causing a leak. Against the ombre blue sunset, the godforsaken cargo unleashes a full blown zombie attack.
Las Vegas, in vicinity and vulnerable, forms the backdrop of a bloody, bonkers and brilliant opening credits starring naked dancers, gambling tourists and carefree locals engaged in a flesh-eating orgy.
It’s a sublimely sensational prologue and reiterates Zack Snyder’s brand of large-scale, excessive and indulgent film-making. The rest of the movie though and there’s a good two hours of it, is a staggeringly done-to-death slog with nothing new or fun to add in the zombie genre.
You may recall Snyder’s ferocious take on the subject in his 2004 remake of George A Romero’s Dawn of the Dead. Since then, the zombie space has grown by leaps and bounds, by way of the creepy White Walkers in Game of Thrones or the relentless assault of their ilk in South Korea’s Kingdom series.
Snyder’s Army of The Dead looks slick but mostly it’s just a muzzled version of his once hyper vision.
Having a city full of zombies on the loose sets the stage for no holds barred gratuitous violence but by the time the movie takes off, which is pretty much the half way mark, it’s too late. Between poor pacing and tired clichés, Army of the Dead never quite recovers.
The sole purpose of a zombie or slasher flick’s crowded cast is to amp up the casualty count. Greater the number, fiercer its impact.
Snyder puts together a large group of mercenaries and oddballs, spearheaded by the burly Dave Bautista, whose mission is looting a loaded vault from right under the zombie’s nose in exchange of handsome remuneration from a Japanese casino owner.
Insisting on accompanying this uninspiring mix is Bautista’s estranged daughter (Ella Purnell). She hopes to rescue aamchi Huma Qureshi, doing nothing of consequence in her fleeting first and final scene as a quarantine sufferer.
Once the living step into the undead club, a mob of heinous faced predators block their path left, right and centre.
Among them reigns a superior variety, whose grisly romance is challenged by the entry of human trespassers. Whatever mildly political or pandemic relevance Army of the Dead means to imply is floundered by its mindless mood and clumsy characterisations. There’s an acute scarcity of dread and danger.
Snyder dazzles occasionally, like the scene where a zombie is used to check the hazardous vault corridor. But these moments are few and far between. Too often the shabbily edited spectacle wanders off for needless father-daughter chitchats that do little except draw our attention on his wanting writing skills.
If you are still willing to waste two-and-a-half precious hours on this hyped up hack job from Hollywood, make time for the South Korean series Kingdom too. They’ve turned zombies into a thing of art.