Zack Snyder’s Army of the Dead: Ocean’s Eleven meets Dawn of the Dead
Director Zack Snyder never disappoints, and Army of the Dead is no exception. After a zombie outbreak in Las Vegas, the city is quarantined and about to be destroyed by the US government. But when casino tycoon Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) approaches ex-mercenary Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) about a large sum of money trapped in the quarantine zone, Ward assembles a crew of mercenaries to pull off a grand heist and retrieve the money.
It’s like a mash-up of Ocean’s Eleven meets Dawn of The Dead, with a plot that’s a gory, glorious culmination of whatever-can-go-wrong-will-go-wrong circumstances.
Army of the Dead is everything we expect from a zombie movie, with fast-paced zombie attacks, gaudy special effects and a plot that is at times so far fetched, we teeter between disbelief and pleasure.
The contrast of the roaring zombies against Las Vegas’s grandeur is nowhere more clear than in the film’s title sequence, which shows toupee-wearing old money meeting newly undead showgirls while zombie Elvis wanders around Sin City, all playing out to the soundtrack of Viva Las Vegas. Now, while some parts of Army of the Dead seem predictable, the movie remains entertaining overall, with Snyder including moments of absurdity shot in a vibrant way.
Despite others criticising Army of the Dead saying its characters “don’t have enough meat on their bones”, I think the meat they do have is just enough to serve the film’s plot. After all, most zombie movies are more about the action-packed apocalypse unfolding than they are about deeply complicated characters. Just as the genre of zombie films has evolved, so too have the zombies themselves as they have become smarter and stronger in our recent series and films.
Army of the Dead takes zombies a step further in intelligence and skill, showing that Snyder is “rewriting the genre’s grammar”. With allusions to Danny Ocean, images that appear to have been directed by John Woo, and quarantine camps and temperature checks that reference the Covid-19 pandemic, the film is definitely not starved for metaphor. Nor is it lacking in representation – its cast hails from Mexico, Japan, India and more, reflecting Hollywood’s renewed quest for diversity.
Army of the Dead achieves everything it sets out to do, and despite the plot’s predictability, Snyder manages to keep the audience’s attention with strong storytelling and imagery. This is Snyder’s second zombie film after his remake of Dawn of the Dead, and it’s safe to say that he’s successfully established himself as a trailblazer in the gory genre.
- The Walking Dead (all episodes now on Showmax)
- Zombieland: Double Tap (DStv online)
- World War Z (Showmax)
- Bunks (Showmax)