Army of the Dead

Army of the Dead ★★★★

“You all keep talking about the city like it’s their prison. It’s not. It’s their kingdom”

Wait, you’re telling me I’m the only one who enjoyed the hell out of this? You all are crazy. Army of the Dead gave me exactly what I wanted: characters/actors I liked walking into a situation they probably won’t all walk away from, coupled with engaging and dynamic action, a script that works just fine, enough twists and gore to keep me on my toes, and Dave Bautista in glasses. Throw that all together and baby, you got a stew going.

There’s really not much more to say than that, I got what I came from, so most of the praise should go towards the cast. Dave Bautista is such a treat here. In the hands of someone else this would be lower tier action but Bautista marries his physical attributes with his ability to portray authentic and believable characters so well that you can’t help but be drawn in. Ana de la Reguera (from Nacho Libre!!) and Omari Hardwick complete a trio of friends with shared history and a great chemistry, and Ella Purnell also brings her all to what could have been a cheesy father-daughter dynamic, but instead created something that I was actually able to invest in. I’ll watch anything with Garret Dillahunt and he delivers here as a shady corporate type, and I was prepared to despise Matthias Schweighöfer’s character but he’s able to create a really fun comic relief character, enhanced by his dynamic with Hardwick. Also, huge props to Nora Arnezeder for turning a supporting character into a scene stealer, balancing strength with vulnerability exceptionally, and Samantha Win, whose stunt background helps her create one of the most badass actions scenes I’ve seen in a while. That’s ultimately the takeaway from this film: these are all characters that could have been throwaway, but are elevated by the fact that everyone knows what type of movie this is, and came to play.

Is the visual style weird and hazy? Sure, but I hardly ever minded it. Is the opening sequence just as emotionally jarring as Up’s? I’ll never say…but probably. Does the addition of Tig work? Not really, but I suppose that was unavoidable so I won't hold it against the film. Do I have nitpicky comments? Sure, but I didn’t while I was watching them, which counts for something, and allowed me to have a really fun time with this one. Plus, my wife stayed awake through the whole thing, which I did not anticipate, but I think (I hope) speaks to how engaging this is, and to the energy of the cast, and how we can’t help but watch to see what happens to them.

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