Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead
Running time:148 minutes
Director:Zack Snyder
Release date:21 may 2021
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.

Mulder's Review

Fascinating, original, perfectly mastered Army of the Dead shows us once again that the director and co-writer Zack Snyder has no equal to seize an existing and pre-established universe (genre films, superhero films) to transcend it and give birth to memorable films capable of marking our memories by its visual strength and the ingenuity of certain shots. Army of the Dead is a successful mix of horror, war, heist and science fiction films. Mixed to perfection, we get a film worthy of the 7 bastards in which a team must carry out a practically impossible action in a defined time lapse. 

What could have been a zombie-like Suicide Squad with its appealing cast and a completely failed script is here a film that exceeds our most demanding requirements.  Army of the Dead transcends the zombie movie into an intense visual cinematic experience that does not shy away from any censorship that limits its expression as is all too often the case with American blockbusters.  This film has all the characteristics of those Hollywood films that constantly try to surprise us with spectacular scenes and doesn't seem to shy away from any prohibition to offer us a real plunge into hell with its zombie tiger, its evolved zombies that are as dangerous as they are intelligent.

It would also be interesting to compare the evolution between Zack Snyder's first zombie movie, Dawn of the Dead (2004) (remake of George A. Romero) and this one. Indeed after going through several adaptations of comic book universes (Watchmen: The Guardians (Watchmen) (2009), Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)), this film appears to be a triumphant return to a genre that he has mastered to perfection while offering a spectacular action film whose editing could recall some comic books with multiple twists and turns, very neat visual effects and above all extremely violent scenes that honor the zombie films that have marked our memories. 

While most zombie movies seem to follow the same rules with a worldwide invasion and humans unable to control the situation, Army of the Dead seems to want to bring its share of new ideas such as delimiting the occupation of these zombies on a limited perimeter. The city of Las Vegas, representing all the possible excesses on earth, is the perfect place to give the film a very particular aura (even if this city is reconstituted here because the film was mainly shot in Atlantic City). Thus, after a very successful introduction scene showing once again how the excesses of science can lead to a real world danger, Army of the Dead places the action in a city infested with zombies. The first scene, as successful as original, presents well the context in which the action takes place and how the zombie invasion has been limited to a single city closed by multitudes of containers. Transformed into a veritable field of ruins, Las Vegas seems to no longer belong to the United States and reminds us of the futuristic atmosphere of the Planet of the Apes (one scene in the film is an obvious and perfectly brought-forward reference).

Instead of being just another zombie movie with humans trying to survive and fight with the means at hand, Army of the Dead turns the tables and introduces us to a former war hero, Scott Ward (Dave Bautista) who couldn't prevent Las Vegas from surviving the zombie invasion. Having lost his wife and daughter, only having decided to take a step back, this former soldier had to become a cook in a simple fast food restaurant as his military skills seem to have not allowed him to find another job that would enhance his fighting spirit. When a powerful casino owner, Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada), approaches him and offers him a dangerous and well-paid mission, Scott Ward decides to set up his team and leave with them in the middle of an occupied zone.  

Scott Ward's mission is to recover 200 million dollars hidden in a vault under the Strip 32 hours before an atomic bomb destroys Las Vegas. He finds himself with his daughter Kate (Ella Purnell), Maria Cruz (Ana de la Reguera), an old friend of his, Vanderohe (Omari Hardwick), a zombie killing machine, Marianne Peters (Tig Notaro), a chopper pilot, Mikey Guzman (Raúl Castillo), a zombie killing influencer, Chambers (Samantha Win), Martin (Garret Dillahunt), the casino's head of security, but also Coyote (Nora Arnezeder, who makes a remarkable comeback here), a warrior as strong as she is brave, and also a security guard, Burt Cummings (Theo Rossi), and finally a genius safecracker. Their mission will not go as planned and will expose them to multiple dangers.

Army of the Dead not only does not neglect at any moment the psychology of the characters but above all keeps us on the edge of our seats for the entire duration. Despite its ultra-violent scenes, the script by Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten and Joby Harold allows itself a few comical scenes to lighten the mood but also to show that the characters are not simple puppets just here to be slaughtered. Until the last minutes of this film we hold our breath and some purely jubilant scenes make Army of the Dead not only an excellent entertainment but also allows to set the scene that will serve as well for an announced and already confirmed animated series but also a prequel of this film that promises to be as exciting as spectacular. We can only advise you to discover this memorable movie which goes beyond the simple framework of the zombie movie to give birth to a visually rich universe that will stay in your head after seeing this movie.

Army of the Dead
Directed by Zack Snyder
Produced by Deborah Snyder, Wesley Coller, Zack Snyder
Screenplay by Zack Snyder, Shay Hatten, Joby Harold
Story by Zack Snyder
Starring Dave Bautista, Ella Purnell, Omari Hardwick, Ana de la Reguera, Theo Rossi, Matthias Schweighöfer, Nora Arnezeder, Hiroyuki Sanada, Tig Notaro, Raúl Castillo, Huma Qureshi, Garret Dillahunt
Music by Tom Holkenborg
Cinematography : Zack Snyder
Edited by Dody Dorn
Production company : The Stone Quarry
Distributed by Netflix
Release date : May 21, 2021 (United States)
Running time : 148 minutes

Viewed on May 17, 2021 (Netflix Press Access)

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