Army of the Dead Review

Zack Snyder is returning to his roots after spending years making superhero films for DC. Army of The Dead might not be a straight-up sequel to his directorial debut Dawn of the Dead, a remake of George A. Romero’s zombie classic. Snyder has certainly left his mark on DC’s superhero genre, but it’s equally exciting to see the director return to blood and gore and Army of the Dead has plenty of both.

The film follows Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) and his ragtag team of accomplices who are tasked by a wealthy casino owner Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) to retrieve his money from a vault deep inside a Vegas casino. The catch? Las Vegas is now overrun by zombies. The team are also on a deadline; the US government is about to launch a nuclear missile into Vegas in order to obliterate the zombies once and for all.

ARMY OF THE DEAD (Pictured) DAVE BAUTISTA as SCOTT WARD in ARMY OF THE DEAD. Cr. CLAY ENOS/NETFLIX © 2021

Army of the Dead won’t profoundly change you or your worldview, but it does deliver on the goods. The film is a blood-splattered, high-voltage joyride of zombie action. It’s great fun, but ultimately offers nothing new or exciting, aside from a zombie tiger called Valentine. Nothing in Army of the Dead feels fresh; the zombies lack a unique quality to make them stand out from the hordes (pun fully intended) of other zombie films and the action, while satisfyingly gory, never feels that interesting.

The film sets out to explore Ward’s strained relationship with his daughter Kate (Ella Purnell) who tags along to save her friend who wandered into Vegas in the hopes of stealing enough money to buy herself and her children a new life outside of the quarantine zones. The theme of family has always been a central one in Snyder’s work and Army of the Dead feels particularly personal to Snyder who lost his daughter Autumn to suicide. It’s a shame the film never properly digs into Ward and Kate’s tragic relationship but instead focuses on the team’s efforts to break into the vault.

The cast of the film is made up of familiar faces. Bautista is on fine form here, proving that he the charisma to lead and carry a film of this scope. Omari Hardwick and Matthias Schweighöfer share wonderful chemistry and the actors bounce off each other in a delightful manner and bring a lot of much needed humour into a film that otherwise takes itself a little too seriously at times. Tig Notaro is the standout though. Digitally replacing Chris D’Elia, Notaro’s comedic timing is impeccable and while her inclusion in the film isn’t completely seamless, she’s charming enough for us to not care.

ARMY OF THE DEAD – TIG NOTARO as PETERS in ARMY OF THE DEAD. Cr. SCOTT GARFIELD/NETFLIX © 2021

Army of the Dead is unfortunately brought down by its lacklustre script. The action unfolds in a predictable manner and the film simply offers nothing exciting that we haven’t seen before. Snyder’s action is often kinetic, but the scenes never amount to a satisfying bigger picture. There are great individual scenes, such as Hardwick’s Vanderohe fetching zombies to trigger multiple boobytraps, but these feel strangely removed from the main narrative.

As a whole, Army of the Dead doesn’t impress as much as it should after a promising, fun start. Despite Junkie XL’s ecstatic score and interesting soundtrack choices, the film remains a bland exercise in zombie violence and family affairs. The film’s action scenes are fun and Army of the Dead delivers on the spectacle, but it also feels tired and dated. Army of the Dead streams on Netflix May 21st.

Maria Lattila

Updated: May 20, 2021


Get involved
Continue the conversation over on The Digital Fix Forum

Army of the Dead Review

Army of the Dead is a blood-soaked thrill ride but ultimately doesn't offer anything new or exciting

2
Army of the Dead Review | The Digital Fix