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For me, Army of the Dead was a bit of a mixed bag. Though I enjoyed being plunged into this mysterious new world of the undead, I also wished the movie did more with its zombies and main characters, rather than rush through their stories.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, Army of the Dead sees a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble and venture into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted. However, to no one’s surprise, things don’t go according to plan. And thanks to greed and selfishness, our protagonists end up facing far worse than they bargained for.
From the very beginning, Army of the Dead teases a larger story of aliens and military experiments going on in the background. However, in the forefront, its main story focuses on a bunch of capable people who just wanted a better life.
Though we see little of it, The movie’s opening brilliantly depicts the horrors of survival during the first days of the outbreak. And it’s during this chaos that we meet several interesting characters including the first half of the main cast.
Dave Bautista was perfect as the brutal but caring Father Scott ward, who tragically had to kill his infected wife to save his daughter Kate. We also meet Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick) and Maria (Ana Reguera) both of whom help Scott escape the city before it’s sealed off by the military.
Honestly, I would have loved to see more of the events leading up to the fall of Las Vegas. But seeing as there’s an upcoming prequel movie that will cover the zombie’s origins, I’ll wait to get my answers.
With Vegas sealed, the city’s previous residents fall on hard times, and this motivates Scott and his friends to agree to rob the casino vault in the city of zombies.
But they were going to need more help.
Though the heist itself wasn’t as exciting as I expected, the full crew of this suicide mission made it entertaining.
Everyone from Scott to their fearless guide Lilly (Nora Armezedar) and their added muscle Chambers and Guz were very good. And I was impressed by how well they digitally added Tig Notaro’s character.
And then there’s Dieter.
As the safecracker of the group, Dieter was always going to be in the limelight. But Matthias Schweighöfer played him with such enthusiasm that he ended up becoming one of my favorite aspects of the movie. Dieter was the perfect balance of terrified but committed to the job. And despite his limited combat experience, he was more than helpful to the operation.
Ironically, the one thing Army of The Dead doesn’t use properly is its army of dead people. Going in, I expected the crew to be constantly under pressure from the undead. But barring a few surprises, this tension was almost completely absent.
While the movie does a brilliant job of setting up its world, its predictable and rushed storyline undercuts all that hard work. Several story points felt shoehorned in for the sake of the plot. And for the most part, anyone who’s ever watched a zombie thriller would easily tell how this movie will end.
Even when the zombies finally got into action, most of them were easily eradicated. And all we were left with was a generic boss fight that we’ve seen thousand times before.
Another thing that bothered me were the fights with the Zombie leader Zeus.
Despite claiming to be “professional zombie hunters,” most characters wasted all their bullets shooting Zeus’s armored head like that was the only vulnerable part of his body. One would have thought that crippling him first would have been the obvious choice, but I guess that’s just me.
Was Army of The Dead a bad movie? No. Thanks to its characters, the Netflix zombie thriller was largely entertaining and did a good job of setting up its future installments. That said, Army of The Dead would have been better, if the film had spent more time focusing on its current story.
- Great cast
- Good World-Building Story
- Decent Action
- Very Predictable Main Story
- Underwhelming Conclusion