In the 21st century, sequels for successful genre movies are almost a given. So it’s somewhat of a surprise that it’s taken 10 years for Zombieland, which made over $100 million in 2009, to receive a follow-up film. Featuring all of the original cast, writers, and director, Zombieland: Double Tap looks to re-create the inventiveness of the original.
After being at odds with each other for much of the first film, Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Wichita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) are now a relatively happy group. They travel around the post-apocalyptic United States, searching for a safe spot while relishing every opportunity they get to kill zombies.
But the intervening 10 years has changed their relationships, and each is looking for some kind of change. Columbus thinks he and Wichita should get married, Little Rock chafes at being thought of as “a kid” since she’s now an adult, and Tallahassee … well, Tallahassee is still an ornery good ol’ boy, but he’s evolved into a father figure for the group.
Director Ruben Fleischer and the writing team of Dave Callaham, Rhett Reese, and Paul Wernick maintain the riotous nature of the first film for much of the sequel’s running time. Columbus’ rules for living in Zombieland are still a big focus, and even though they’re not as hilariously clever this time around, the accompanying visuals are still good for a laugh.
The stops at a couple of notable U.S. landmarks — the White House and Graceland — yield enough fun that it might have been interesting for the film to feature more of them. And a quartet of new characters played by Zoey Deutch, Rosario Dawson, Luke Wilson, and Thomas Middleditch all bring new twists to the group dynamic without overshadowing the main foursome.
So it’s somewhat disappointing that after solid-to-great storytelling for three-quarters of the film, the filmmakers rush through the finale sequence. It’s the rare case where a film would have benefited from more footage, as 5 to 10 minutes added on to the 99-minute running time would have made the ending more satisfying and comprehensible.
Eisenberg, Harrelson, Stone, and Breslin still work well as a group, although Breslin seems to be running uphill against the other three, each of whom has one or more Oscar nominations (including a win for Stone) since the first film came out. They wear their respective roles like a glove, so the chemistry between them rarely falters.
Zombieland: Double Tap doesn’t live up to the original, but the fun it has racking up zombie kills, introducing new characters, and finding different things for the original cast to do make it a mostly worthwhile endeavor.