Zombieland: Double Tap
The zombie genre has had an explosive pop-culture run in the past decade and a half. Films, comics, and especially TV, with the blockbuster The Walking Dead (2010-), have capitalized on a surprising demand for the dead. Back in 2009 a zombie-comedy was first brought to screen by Ruben Fleischer in Zombieland (2009). As its stars subsequently garnered Oscar nominations and fame it became harder to pull them together for a sequel, but ten years later it became possible.
Zombieland: Double Tap (2019) is a continuation of the story of the four survivors who made an unlikely good team. The quippy and rule-following Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) returns as well as his romantic partner, the tough-as-nails Wichita (Emma Stone), the gun-toting Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), and Wichita’s eye-rolling sister Little Rock (Abigail Breslin). The group makes their home at the now abandoned White House, but become fractured when some of them long for the road-life.
Fleischer seems to jump back into the fun tonal rhythms of the first film, with frequent winks and tongue-in-cheek jokes that last into the post-credits scenes. In the end, the enjoyment of a Zombieland sequel is in seeing these fun characters in new situations; and while the concept and narrative execution of Double Tap might be messy, it, nevertheless, delivers once set up.
It is great to revisit these characters, especially since their actors have matured a lot as performers and now relish more in the meta-humor of the film. However, it was the added tension that competing romantic interest Madison (Zoey Deutch) provided, that allowed for certain stakes and character development. I have been a fan of Deutch since she appeared in Richard Linklater’s Everybody Wants Some!!! (2016), but her subsequent roles from that indie-breakout have been scattered; between teen dramas, Before I Fall (2017), wasted supporting roles, Why Him? (2016), and straight to Netflix romantic comedies, Set it Up (2018). She’s been better utilized in the promising Netflix series The Politician (2019-), but it seems to be in Double Tap that she’ll impact mainstream audiences with her capabilities. She’s easily the highlight of the zombie film, playing a valley-girl caricature, all in pink yoga attire, and drawing the biggest laughs from the theater. In fact, she seemed to be in a small role initially, but the film seems to roughly shove her back into the narrative in what seemed like a rushed re-write. There are also some fun smaller appearances from the likes of Luke Wilson and Rosario Dawson, although much more restricted to their lanes than Deutch.
In the end, Zombieland: Double Tap proves to be the fun follow-up to the first film that any fan could hope for. The narrative premise is sloppy, but the entertainment brought forth from the set circumstances and a merry cast brings you necessary escapism.