Army of the Dead is a Netflix zombie heist film written and directed by Zack Snyder and starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi, and Garret Dillahunt.
Within the first few minutes of zombie flick Army of the Dead, a dispatcher asks one of the men escorting a top-secret package to get the hell out and leave it compromised on the road, after a devastating accident. Obviously, no one works on it fast enough and eventually they all die.
However, there are two things we get to know from this encounter: that zombie has crazy strength and guns don’t seem to have an effect on it, well, except for head shots.
Army of the Dead next shifts to Las Vegas and tone, too, shifts from serious to jokey. We get a rundown of what went down in Vegas after that fateful night in slow-mo as Viva Las Vegas by Richard Cheese & Allison Crowe plays in the background, as well as meet our principal characters. They take the remaining uninfected people and get inside a secure area that is walled-off from Las Vegas where only the undead now live.
The movie, then, focuses on Scott Ward, a mercenary, who puts together a crew to steal money from Bly Tanaka’s casino vault at the latter’s behest, before the military drops a nuclear bomb on the city.
As Army of the Dead moves forward at a somewhat glacial pace, we get to know all the members of the team Ward creates. They represent characters whom we have heard and seen before and the characters who are always present in every team, but hey, what’s one more time?
The movie starts off almost an hour after the first zombie gets loose. An hour. At 2 hours and 38 minutes, Army of the Dead is entirely too long. The story, although introduces a few new zombie rules and themes, cannot make up for its utter lack of planning. The story goes nowhere. There are just so many zombie movies out there that if you don’t introduce at least one innovative thing in the narrative, then it’s the same movie happening over and over again.
The jokes and the sequences are bland and stale and you’d feel that even before the team goes inside the zombie zone. When they do, however, nothing of note happens either. We see Dave Bautista use machine guns and kill zekes (World War Z, anyone?) from all around but that’s it. The supporting cast, too, doesn’t have much to do and this zombie-heist flick, thus, becomes a bore-fest almost as soon as it starts.
Throughout the long sequences wherein the team tries to tackle the zombies while pushing forward towards their destination, you feel no thrill or excitement. Emotional moments between Ward and his daughter Katie don’t touch our hearts and the erstwhile cowardly jokester Ludwig Dieter’s sudden burst of courage seems entirely unbelievable. The biggest disservice, however, that Army of the Dead does is to Huma Qureshi, who has absolutely nothing to do and needs to be rescued by the white woman.
Army of the Dead, much like Snyder’s other movies, looks and feels great. The long shots of a burning Las Vegas, especially after it has been nuked (with The Cranberries’ acoustic Zombie playing in the background) are beautiful. The practical effects are probably the best part here. Blood oozes and gushes from all corners and heads are mauled and sometimes they explode and splatter. The CGI, too, looks quite wonderful.
However, these small wins cannot make Army of the Dead movie any less dull than it already is.
Summing up: Army of the Dead
I have been super excited to watch a zombie movie and Army of the Dead gave me hope considering the huge budget and whatnot. However, what we get is a half-baked story that goes nowhere and does nothing. The opening sequence is the only part that I thoroughly enjoyed watching, but after that, it’s just all downhill. Honestly, just watch something else – anything else. Anything would be less disappointing than this.
Army of the Dead is streaming on Netflix.