Zombieland came out right before the premiere of AMC's flagship show The Walking Dead. It was a blast of humor and gore that helped launch the careers of writers Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick and director Ruben Fleischer. They have all gone on to hugely successful comic book movies such as Deadpool and Venom. The sequel to Zombieland now arrives almost a decade later. While it struggles to find a plot, the film packs enough fun, humor, and gore to satisfy fans.
The opening narration from Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) thanks the audience for choosing Zombieland: Double Tap for their zombie entertainment. This is about the only acknowledgment the film makes to the glut of media in the zombie sub-genre. Things are pretty much the same. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Witchita (Emma Stone), Little Rock (Abigail Breslin) and Columbus are living as a family in the White House. Zombies are just part of daily life now except for a few new mutated zombies with particular skills. The plot is very thin. Wichita and Little Rock leave unexpectedly and break up the family. When Wichita returns, she tells the boys that Little Rock has run off with a pacifist hippie (Avan Jogia). While Wichita was gone, Columbus met Madison (Zoey Deutch), a dim-witted but earnest young woman. They all hit the road in search of Little Rock. Along the way, they meet some new characters including Nevada (Rosario Dawson) and doppelgangers Albuquerque (Luke Wilson) and Flagstaff (Thomas Middleditch).
Do not come to Zombieland: Double Tap for the plot. It does little but move the film along to a predictable climax. In 9 years, you would have hoped the screenwriters had more ideas. Do come for the chemistry of this cast. The core cast falls right back into their rhythms, producing many funny interactions. The new characters fit right in as well. Harrelson and Eisenberg, in particular, seems to be having a blast working together again. Deutch steals many scenes as Madison. The film mines several jokes out of her "dumb blonde" character including how she has managed to stay alive for so long on her own. Some of the film's best moments come from how the more hardened crew underestimates her survival skills.
Fleischer has grown as a director. There is an extended shot fight sequence that is impressive and far more elaborate than anything in the first film. It is a shame he hasn't quite perfected his pacing. Zombieland: Double Tap drags in a few spots. This is largely due to the messy but thin plot that doesn't have a single creative idea in it. It is a shame as it diminishes the momentum of the film's comedy. Luckily the film is only 99 minutes and packs in enough laugh for me to recommend it. Still, I wish there had been something more for the characters to do.