A decade after the runaway success of the original Zombieland movie, the sequel – Double Tap – follows the wild comedic romp with equally surreal humour. The premise is basically about a group of people travelling across the USA, avoiding (and killing) zombies along the way.
In Double Tap, punchlines are set up, then knocked down in outlandish ways; obscure knowledge is sometimes required to react to the gags, but there will always be something for everyone, whether you took American History and therefore know who William Howard Taft is, or understand enough pop culture references to get the geekier references.
The characters develop directly from their roles in the original Zombieland, and are immediately recognizable – for the most part. Tallahassee (Woody Harrelson) continues to be a gag, masculine, and slightly insane character that is archetypical of American action-comedy films; Columbus (Jesse Eisenberg) and Wichita (Emma Stone) have settled into domesticity (or at least, what counts for domesticity in a post-apocalypse), although it does suit Columbus far more than it does Wichita. The greatest difference we see is Little Rock (Abigail Breslin), who has grown up and shows all the traits of a hormonal, impulsive teenager.
The settled domesticity between Columbus and Wichita, in particular, is a delight to watch. Being put into jeopardy by new characters, external factors, and Wichita’s own cynicism, watching the back-and-forth oscillation of the relationship as a whole is as heart-rending as it can be quietly hilarious. In fact, everyone manages to find some love by the end of the movie – at least for a good portion of the movie – and the simple happy ending expands upon the familial love that Columbus came to acknowledge in the original Zombieland, including enough new characters to make a more communal love.
The action continues to delight in its gratuitous violence. We can roughly divide zombie media into two categories – the depressive, Hobbesian category which focuses on the destruction of society and the endless war for survival between humans in the new state of nature, and the absurdist category which revels in the surrealism that comes with a post-apocalyptic society, ridiculing our modern life in the process.
The mundaneity of modern life contrasts to the excessive violence being enacted on a day-to-day basis on zombies, and the surrealism of watching Tallahasse and Columbus casually kill zombies in a shopping mall, and celebrating Christmas while zombies line up outside the White House will give me a wry chuckle every time. It almost makes me want to pick up some of the most entertaining interactive zombie media out there (Dead Rising, anyone?) and have a go at splattering some melon-brains myself.
All in all, Zombieland: Double Tap is exactly what you would expect of an American action-comedy film. With the exceptions of a few set-ups with no punchlines, jokes were set up and knocked down with finesse. Gags were well-timed, sufficiently surreal to be funny without being confusing, and served only to enhance the absurdist atmosphere of the post-apocalyptic world that Zombieland builds.
The story is strong in its simplicity, because you didn’t come to watch this film for a winding story; you came to watch some zombie heads getting splattered onto the floor. It delivers with aplomb, with an extra large serving of Tallahassee’s dad jokes on top.