Being released amidst the zombie craze of the late 2000s, Zombieland was a sleeper success that has since sustained a passionate following. Much of that was due to the film’s decidedly unique take on the tried and true genre, meshing its apocalyptic landscape with a heavy dose of humor and personality from its all-star cast. After a decade of waiting, Zombieland: Double Tap has finally hit theaters, but the results pale in comparison to the charming original.
Zombieland: Double Tap picks up with Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg), Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson), Witchita (Emma Stone), and Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who continue to survive the zombie apocalypse while forming their own oddball family dynamic. When Little Rock decides to run away from home to pursue a new life, the crew rallies together to face newfound threats and save their family.
Double Tap isn’t without its moments, with much of that being accredited to the core cast. Woody Harrelson is the beating heart of these films, with his loud-mouth vulgar energy as Tallahassee being the driving force for much of humor. Whether he’s salivating over an impressive zombie kill or ranting about a newfound challenger, Harrelson is always having a blast at capturing the kooky nature of the character. Jesse Eisenberg continues to play the awkwardly neurotic Columbus effectively, while Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin deliver their sharp personas accordingly.
With the original director (Venom’s Ruben Fleischer) and writers (Deadpool scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick) returning, Zombieland: Double Tap is a sequel that admirably tries to appeal to fans of the original. Fans will likely enjoy many of the in-references dispersed throughout the script, including a post-credit scene that ranks among one of the funniest in recent memory. Fleischer’s efforts try to capture the same zany style of the original, filling the screen with Columbus’ robust rules while also displaying some equally stylistic and amusing zombie bloodshed.
While this approach will work for some, I felt Zombieland: Double Tap had very little new to offer to its core audience. The original does a sufficient job at establishing the makeshift family dynamic, but this sequel does little to expand upon those relations, rather having the characters seemingly go through the motions. Aspects like Tallahassee obsessively following after a passion of his and Columbus/Witchita’s on-and-off-again relationship feel like tired retreads of the original, with Reese and Wernick’s script failing to build upon the well-established base of the original.
Instead of focusing on its core group, Double Tap throws a series of half-baked gags at the screen with mostly poor results. Zoey Deutch and Rosario Dawson are thrust into fairly thankless one-note roles, with Deutch being handed an incredibly cloying role as a simplistic valley girl that is way below the actresses’ notable talents (and feels super dated in its execution). While the original film was able to forgo a narrative structure, this film’s attempt at doing so feels like a lazily-drawn together series of sketches crafted without much momentum or cleverness, as its telling that this sequel feels significantly shaggier in pace despite being only slightly longer in length.
Zombieland: Double Tap’s attempts at capturing the lightning-in-a-bottle charm of the original sadly fall by the wayside, leaving audiences with a shell of what made the original so successful.