“Ocean’s Eleven” gets a zombie remix in Zack Snyder’s latest, as Dave Bautista and company infiltrate undead-infested Las Vegas Strip to try and walk away with a fat load of cash against all odds. The idea manages to stay afloat because the film does not take itself too seriously.
Despite the film’s slant at graphic gore, Snyder keeps it irreverent and that is a respite. He crafts a circus of excesses, suitably violent and partly scary. The film ends up more like a tribute to classic zombie horror than an attempt to reinvent the template in any way. It’s almost as if Snyder was out having fun with the genre that started his career as a filmmaker way back in 2004, when he made his directorial debut with a remake of “Dawn Of The Dead”, George A. Romero’s 1978 release that continues to have a cult following globally.
Before anything, from the Indian perspective, considerable hype had been built around the fact that “Army Of The Dead” marks Bollywood actress Huma Qureshi’s Hollywood foray. Playing a single mother named Geeta, Huma gets restricted footage. She is okay in a role whose ethnicity seems to have been decided keeping in mind that it could widen curiosity about the film in the Indian market.
An interesting aside here: Riding on Hollywood’s newfound love for inclusivity and in keeping with a trend followed by most films aimed at a global mass market, “Army Of The Dead” brims with international ethnicity. Huma apart, cast members bear origin in Mexico (Ana de la Reguera), Japan (Hiroyuki Sanada), France (Nora Arnezeder), Germany (Matthias Schweighofer), England (Ella Purnell) and Canada (Samantha Win), besides of course the fact that hero Dave Bautista owes descent to a Greek mother and Filipino father.
It is important to understand such a casting. It becomes an advantage, building instant connect in markets all across the world for a film that goes easy on script originality.
Snyder and his co-screenwriters (Shay Hatten and Joby Harold) imagine a derelict Las Vegas, walled from the rest of the world after a zombie outbreak. A casino boss named Tanaka (Sanada) approaches former zombie war hero Scott Ward (Bautista) with a job. Ward must venture into zombie-infested Las and quarantined Vegas Strip to retrieve $200 million from a vault. He has 32 hours before the government nukes the city.
For Ward, the money he gets could be his ticket to reunite with his estranged daughter Kate (Purnell), so he accepts the job. As he hastily assembles his team and they get going, the plot becomes predictable, though Snyder manages to hold interest with smart storytelling.
For a zombie film “Army Of The Dead” could seem a bit long at 148 minutes, though Snyder scores because he keeps the shocks and spins coming in, liberally laced with cheeky humour and stylishly rendered zombie violence. Hardcore genre buffs normally don’t ask for more.
Army Of The Dead | Cast: Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighofer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raul Castillo, Samantha Win, Huma Qureshi | Direction: Zack Snyder
–By Vinayak Chakravorty