Army of the Dead
The city of Las Vegas is walled off and quarantined after a zombie outbreak takes over the town. A team is hired to break into the city and retrieve 200 million dollars from the vault in a large casino before the city is destroyed by a nuclear bomb.
Spoiler Level: Mild to Medium
A military comvoy, carrying unknown cargo from Area 51, crashes just outside of Las Vegas. A metal sealed shipping container breaks open and a single zombie creeps out. But this isn’t one of the “Shamblers”, slow walking zombies. This zombie is fast, strong and a bit less brainless than we are used to. He kills most of the convoy, infecting a couple of them, and they make their way Las Vegas. As more and more people are infected, a failed military intervention leads to the quarantining of the city. Years later, the President has ordered a low yield nuclear strike on Las Vegas to destroy all the Zombies. Casino owner, Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), a Japanese billionaire, hires Scott Ward (Dave Bautista), a mercenary and founder of the mercenary group “Las Vengeance”, to break into a safe and retrieve 200 million dollars. The catch, the safe is under his Las Vegas hotel, a city full of zombies and they only have 32 hours before the city is nuked.
Scott’s team includes Vanderohe (Amari Hardwick) a soldier whose favorite zombie killing weapon is a concrete saw, Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera) a mechanic and love interest to Scott, Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro) a helicopter pilot, Mikey Guzman (Raul Castillo) a sharpshooter and Ludwig Dieter (Matthias Schweighofer) a German safecracker. Joining them are Lily (Nora Amezeder) a Frenchwoman who helps people break into Las Vegas, Martin (Garret Dillahunt) Tanaka’s security guard and right-hand man, Burt Cummings (Theo Rossi) an abusive security guard in the refugee camps just outside the quarantine zone. Finally, Kate Ward (Ella Purnell) Scott’s estranged daughter who finds out that a couple of refugees are lost in Vegas and goes in to try to find them and guide them out to safety. There are a few others that join them, but in reality they are only there to be zombie chow! Each of these characters make the choice to enter illegally into the quarantine zone for their own reasons. Some do it for love, other’s greed, or adventure, or just the fact that their lives suck so bad that the chance to crawl out of their current situation out ways the risks involve. They would rather die trying to better their lives than keep living the life they have.
The story borrows heavily from a few different genre films. First, the plot is basically a combination of John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and Steven Sodenbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven. There is something in a walled off city that is full of danger and a team of experts need to go in and steal it. There are also scenes that are almost taken directly from other films. The first zombie attack in the movie is very reminiscent of the initial bite scene in American Werewolf in London. The final escape sequence is basically the same scene from Aliens. You could say that Zack Snyder is paying homage to these films, but to me, it took away a bit of the suspense. They so closely resembled those other scenes that I basically knew what was going to happen, so there was no suspense. In addition, there was little explanation of how the first zombie got created, since they are transporting him from Area 51, you could surmise government created. But it is never explored. (It has been announced that there will be a prequel film and an anime-style animated series on Netflix.) The movie is also very long, over two hours, when it didn’t need to be. There were a couple of scenes that were far too long.
Overall, the movie wasn’t bad. It had its fun moments, and the actors all played their parts well. The good guys were relatable, and you root for them, the bad guys were bad and you cheered their demise. Dave Bautista is great as Scott and I love Tig in anything she does. There was also a charisma that Omari Hardwick has that makes you feel for him. The production quality is quite high, with some wonderful cinematography. There are comical moments and sad moments. Like all bank heist films, there were twists and turns and double-crosses, and the payload isn’t always the money.
It was an entertaining zombie heist film, but in my humble opinion, nothing special and a bit too long for “Nothing Special”. It was entertaining, fun with enough blood and gore to keep zombie fans satisfied, but it could have been a lot more.
Army of the Dead: What Happens in Vegas, Dies in Vegas
- Writing - 8/108/10
- Storyline - 8/108/10
- Acting - 9/109/10
- Music - 8/108/10
- Production - 9/109/10
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