Ah, yes—yet another sequel that amounts to little more than a semi-manipulative jab at nostalgia—this is Zombieland: Double Tap, a continuation of the 2009 Jesse Eisenberg/Woody Harrelson/Emma Stone/Abigail Breslin romp that found disparate post-apocalypse survivors getting by in a world full of zombies.
The genre is overloaded, no question, but director Ruben Fleischer's take back then as today has been to embrace a video game aesthetic for the action scenes and a sort of teen comedy feel for the downtimes. It worked the first time out as silly fun, but now it just feels tired and irritating.
Anyway, we catch up with Columbus (Eisenberg), Wichita (Stone), Tallahassee (Harrelson) and Little Rock (Breslin)—so named for their towns of origin—10 years after the events of the first Zombieland. They've since moved into the White House, settled into some degree of normal and all is supposed to be well. When Columbus proposes to Wichita, however, she and Little Rock take off, leaving room for newcomer Madison (Zoey Deutch), a valley girl type with a nut allergy, and Berkeley (Avan Jogia), an underdeveloped hippie about whom weed and patchouli jokes are made, to step into shallow roles that don't matter. Ugh.
Meanwhile, there's a new kind of zombie on the loose (they call it the T-800 because Terminator and because pop culture), but with an assist from a commune living in a skyscraper, an Elvis-obsessed hotel proprietor named Nevada (Rosario Dawson) and a shockingly familiar pair of hunters named Albuquerque and Flagstaff (Luke Wilson and Thomas Middleditch), our heroes might just have a shot at killing off the new undead. Or most of them. Some of them, anyway.
Eisenberg and Harrelson's chemistry remains mostly intact, though Woody does much of the heavy lifting while young Jesse does his slightly-more-dimensional, nervous Michael Cera thing. Stone and Breslin may as well not be in the film outside of serving as plot devices, and the new characters just plain aren't funny or interesting in any way.
But Zombieland isn't about cinematic excellence, it's about violence and gore and ridiculous fight scenes that are admittedly quite fun. One particular showdown in an Elvis-themed bar brings both thrills and laughs, but it does represent the high point. Elsewhere, we get a steady stream of regurgitated previous events and, chillingly in 2019, a joke about Tallahassee's supposed Indigenous lineage that is problematic at best and racist at worst; we'd have thought Harrelson would be better than that.
And so, Zombieland: Double Tap becomes about escapism, though fans looking to recapture the magic of the first film will surely feel slighted. Everything is less funny and less original. Oh, Emma Stone—you're honestly too good for this shit.
+When they work, the action and comedy
-Same old story; problematic jokes about Native ancestry
Zombieland: Double Tap
Directed by Fleischer
With Eisenberg, Harrelson, Stone and Breslin
Regal 14, Violet Crown, R, 99 min.