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Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead

Synopsis:
Following a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, a group of mercenaries take the ultimate gamble, venturing into the quarantine zone to pull off the greatest heist ever attempted.

A group of mercenaries head into zombie-infested Las Vegas to rob $200 million in . Following a zombie outbreak that infects most of the city, Las Vegas is placed under quarantine and is set to be destroyed by a nuclear strike. Former mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) is approached by casino owner Bly Tanaka () with an offer to recover $200 million from the vault of his casino before the nuclear strike destroys the city. Ward assembles a team that includes his former teammates Maria Cruz () and Vanderohe (), along with helicopter pilot Marianne Peters (), German safecracker Ludwig Dieter (), and Chicano sharpshooter Mikey Guzman (Raúl Castillo). The team are accompanied by Tanaka's head of security Martin () and guided by “The Coyote” Lily (), plus the unexpected inclusion of Ward's estranged daughter Kate (), who wants to locate a friend missing from a nearby quarantine camp.

Seventeen years after directing the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead that kicked off his feature film career, Zack Snyder returns with the action-heavy zombie heist film Army of the Dead. The film kicks off with a prologue detailing how the zombie outbreak began with an escaped Area-51 test subject, which quickly results in all-out mayhem in the city of Las Vegas, which is shown during the quite lengthy opening credits sequence, set to an extended cover of “Viva Las Vegas.” The main plot kicks off after the “zombie war” has been declared lost and the US government is going to resort to nukes to eradicate the zombies in the city. However, before that happens Scott Ward and his team head into the city to recover a stash of $200 million, all while avoiding the swarms of undead, including the sentient Alphas, lead by their king Zeus ().

On paper, Army of the Dead sounds like a refreshing change of pace for director Zack Snyder, who spent much of the last decade embroiled in DCEU and has recently come back from a hiatus, following the tragic death of his daughter. It's probably not a coincidence that he has decided to return zombie films, as a way to reboot his career with the genre that started it. However, the Zack Snyder of today is a much different filmmaker than he was back in 2004, as evidenced by the fact that Army of the Dead sports a quite overblown 2h28m running time, which is nearly a full hour longer than his 1h41m Dawn of the Dead remake.

In fact, I would argue that the inclusion of zombies in Army of the Dead is a bit superficial since the film features a greater emphasis on hyper-violent action and the casino heist than any real horror. In fact, the film doesn't even bother to properly explain why there is a pack of sentient alpha zombies, who seem more akin to the creatures in I Am Legend than the true undead. The Alpha leader Zeus, sporting a mask reminiscent of The Phantom of the Paradise, can be seen as the de facto antagonist of the film, though the film also sees threats from the shady Martin, who is supporting some ulterior motives for joining the mercenaries, and the very sexually abusive quarantine camp Burt Cummings (), who is probably more uncomfortable to watch in the film than any of the zombies.

Overall, Army of the Dead is about as fun as watching someone else play a video game.  There might be some enjoyment, but ultimately you are going to be feeling bored by the end.

Army of the Dead is now streaming on Netflix


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Trailer for Army of the Dead

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Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly
Sean Patrick Kelly is a freelance film critic and blogger based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.